(SAN ANTONIO) — Canadian Conservative Sen. Mike MacDONALD of Nova Scotia may be from across a border, but he came to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) summit armed with statistics proving he’s got a right to be in the mix.
“Our trade is so important to both nations, and anything we can be doing to expand trade we should be doing it. It’s in our best interest,” said MacDonald.
He came to a session on transportation as part of the annual NCSL summit, held this year in San Antonio, Texas. This year’s bipartisan conference will feature 150 sessions on issues including budget conditions, pensions, job recovery, health care and education.
MacDonald said that trade between the U.S. and Canada is $1.7 billion per day. In 2010 the two countries traded about $645 billion back and forth.
William RAMOS, director of Intergovernmental affairs for the U.S. Department of Commerce, is working to expand that level of trade. He said that only 1 percent of U.S. companies export.
One of President Barack OBAMA‘s goals is doubling the country’s exports by 2014. He’s working on trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama, which have the potential to increase exports by $13 billion. But a bigger opportunity may be right next door.
According to MacDonald, a literal barrier that could help eliminate trade barriers and improve an existing relationship is the New International Trade Crossing (NITC). In his opinion, the Matty MOROUN-owned crossing is an oddity.
“Nobody in Canada owns their own bridges,” he said.
He said that spans increase access for citizens, and if he were from Michigan the NITC stall over a potential private span wouldn’t be acceptable to him. As is, Canada has offered to sweeten the pot with $550 million. He thinks it’s a good investment.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Eric HUTCHINGS of Utah said that even far away Utah has identified Canada as a fertile ground for trade.
“Utah isn’t typically seen as a big exporter. We don’t have a harbor, we don’t have a shoreline, but we’re doing great,” said Hutchings.
The state decided to make trade an emphasis, and identified countries that would make good partners with industry in Utah. The state has increased exports and formed the Utah International Trade Commission.
Michigan, meanwhile, isn’t scoring very well on Canadian relations by delaying a second span.
“We’re not the biggest country in the world, Canada, but we’re still your biggest trading partner. People have got to remember that,” said MacDonald.