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When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Canadian business owners and executives, he often asks whether they’re currently exporting to customers abroad - part of an ongoing effort by his administration to encourage cross-border commerce. Now and then, he gets a response that speaks volumes about the relationship between his country and the United States.
“They’ll say, ‘No, we don’t sell internationally, we just sell to the United States,’” Prime Minister Trudeau said during an interview at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, drawing chuckles from the audience. “They don’t think of the U.S. as being international.”
It’s a moment that the country’s leader says reminds him – as he repeated several times during his first visit to the U.S. Chamber since taking office – that “there is no relationship in the world quite like the Canada-U.S. relationship.” Indeed, more than $750 billion in goods and services cross over our border annually, making the United States Canada’s largest trading partner. Similarly, Canada is the top U.S. export market in the world. In addition, our nations’ supply chains and workforces our deeply interwoven and interdependent, particularly in critical sectors like automotive, information technology and energy production.
“In an environment of slowing – if not outright stagnating – global economic output… the U.S. turns to its most steadfast allies and partners to stimulate growth and create jobs,” said Myron Brilliant, U.S. Chamber executive vice president and head of International Affairs. “In Canada, the U.S. has no greater friend as our two countries share much more than just the world’s longest and most productive border.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Still, there are opportunities to strengthen that relationship. One that stands out is expanding market access through trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, of which Canada and the U.S. are members. The new Trudeau government is still undergoing stakeholder consultation on the TPP, but the prime minister sounded optimistic.
“We’re very much a pro-trade country and we’re always looking at trade deals as a way to grow our economy,” Trudeau said when asked about TPP, later adding: “Trade is good for jobs, trade is good for the global economy. We have always had more resources than we have an internal market to be able utilize, so we’re always relying on trade as a key driver of our economy and a key creator of jobs.”
Added Brilliant about the agreement: “This is an opportunity for the United States, Canada and 10 other countries to show leadership at a time of transformational change in the world economy.” He took the opportunity to encourage the Canadian government as well as the U.S. Congress to move forward on ratifying the deal as soon as possible.
More broadly, Trudeau urged Americans and Canadians alike to support policies that bolster innovation, encourage entrepreneurship and embrace our increasingly global and digital economy.
“Canada and the United States must lead the way in innovation and embrace the opportunity to create the jobs of the future,” the prime minister said. “This is North America. We don’t fear the future, we invent it. We don’t worry about the new economy, we create it.”
As Canada seeks to foster innovation in order to stimulate global competitiveness, robust intellectual property (IP) protections will play an essential role in increasing innovative productivity. The U.S. Chamber’s 2016 International IP Index Infinite Possibilities found that Canada would be well-served to introduce a number of changes to the IP framework in order to put the nation on par with its peers. A unified approach to intellectual property-led innovation on both sides of the border will position the U.S. and Canada to enjoy continued success and leadership in the global economy.
By expanding trade opportunities and accelerating innovation, he added, the coming years hold much promise not only for our two countries but for our trading partners to the south, as well.
“I’m confident that in the years ahead, Canada, the United States, and our partners in Mexico will accomplish amazing things together,” Trudeau said. Through collaboration, he added, the three can foster economic growth “that provides good jobs and great opportunities for every North American.”