TRUMP/TRUDEAU: BRIDGE A VITAL LINK

Trump, Trudeau commit to pre-clearance, Gordie Howe Bridge

Posted: Feb 14, 2017 12:33 PM | Last Updated: Feb 14, 2017 12:33 PM

TORONTO, ON – The inaugural meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau resulted in a joint statement by the two leaders. And while the statement didn’t mention NAFTA, it did mention the importance of deepening the relationship between Canada and the U.S.

The statement touches on some issues pertaining to the trucking industry, namely the quick completion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in Detroit, which is cited as a vital economic link between the two countries.

In addition, the statement mentions the commitment to implement pre-clearance operations for cargo.

“The United States and Canada also recognize the importance of cooperation to promote economic growth, provide benefits to our consumers and businesses, and advance free and fair trade. We will continue our dialogue on regulatory issues and pursue shared regulatory outcomes that are business-friendly, reduce costs, and increase economic efficiency without compromising health, safety, and environmental standards. We will work together regarding labour mobility in various economic sectors,” an excerpt from the statement reads.

In a press conference after the two leaders met, Trump talked about the good relationship between Canada and the U.S., and when pressed about his past statements regarding NAFTA, he mentioned that “tweaks” could be made to better the situation on both sides of the border. The president also mentioned the U.S. trade relationship with Mexico is more problematic than its trade relationship than Canada.

“Together, we address security at our shared border and throughout our two countries, while expediting legitimate and vital cross-border trade and travel. We demonstrate daily that security and efficiency go hand-in-hand, and we are building a 21st century border through initiatives such as pre-clearance of people and integrated cross-border law enforcement operations,” the statement from Trump and Trudeau read.

According to the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), many Canadian business groups are pleased with the results of yesterday’s inaugural meeting between the two leaders.

“This creates a good foundation for moving forward on initiatives to jointly grow our economies in the spirit of cooperation that has defined the Canada-US relationship for over 200 years,” says David Bradley, Chief Executive Officer, adding that his 4,500 member companies will be greatly relieved by the results of yesterday’s meeting between the two leaders.

“The opportunities to deploy state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology – starting with key projects like the Gordie Howe International Bridge – to ensure that both security and trade facilitation is improved, are immense. We are encouraged by what we heard today,” says Bradley.

Ahead of the meeting between the two leaders the CTA, joined by of roughly 40 Canada-U.S. business associations, companies and policy experts, released a joint statement outlining the general principles that should be followed when managing the world’s largest security, trade, and cultural relationship.

http://www.todaystrucking.com/trump-trudeau-commit-to-pre-clearance-gordie-howe-bridge

Trump and Trudeau Talk Gordie Howe Bridge

Howe bridge highlighted during Trudeau-Trump meeting

DAVE BATTAGELLO, WINDSOR STAR

More from Dave Battagello, Windsor Star

Published on: February 13, 2017 | Last Updated: February 13, 2017 4:17 PM EST

The Windsor and Essex County region can breathe a little easier after gaining recognition during Monday’s high-profile meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Gordie Howe International Bridge was featured as the only infrastructure project mentioned in a joint statement released by the two leaders, while they also endorsed the value of continuing the booming Canada-U.S. trade relationship which is critical to Windsor’s economy.

“The United States and Canada recognize the importance of cooperation to promote economic growth, provide benefits to our consumers and businesses and advance free and fair trade,” said the joint statement.

“Given our shared focus on infrastructure investments, we will encourage opportunities for companies in both countries to create jobs through those investments. In particular, we look forward to the expeditious completion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will serve as a vital economic link between our two countries.”

The Howe bridge mention will be reassuring to regional business leaders who count on the Windsor-Detroit crossing which handles 25 per cent of all trade between the two nations.

Rendering shows one possible cable-stayed concept of the planned Gordie Howe International Bridge.COURTESY OF WINDSOR-DETROIT BRIDGE AUTHORITY

Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority Chairman Dwight Duncan was “delighted” to see the Howe bridge mentioned so prominently in the joint statement.

“It was the only project referenced,” he said. “I’m very happy and this confirms what we have been saying that despite the change in (U.S.) administration this project would be a go and top priority for both governments.”

Given how the bridge project was also so highly placed in the Trudeau-Trump statement also bodes will for the push to get the Detroit River crossing project done, Duncan said.

The planned six-lane Howe bridge should see construction begin some time in 2018 after a project contractor is selected at the end of this year by bridge authority.

Construction is expected to take about 42 months with completion likely to occur in 2022.

The joint Trudeau-Trump statement also noted how Canada is the most important foreign market for 35 U.S. states with more than $2 billion in two-way trade “flowing across our shared border every day.”

“Millions of American and Canadian middle-class jobs, including in the manufacturing sector, depend on our partnership,” the statement said.

“We affirm the importance of building on this existing strong foundation for trade and investment and further deepening our relationship, with the common goal of strengthening the middle class.”

Windsor-Essex Chamber CEO Matt Marchand said the local area — where thousands of jobs are connected to the U.S. — should be at peace following the meeting.

“The U.S. president and prime minister talking about the importance of trade between the two countries was heartening to hear,” he said. “Obviously it was a good sign this administration will value the relationship with Canada — not just with trade, but as friends and allies.”

The fact Trump acknowledged the importance and his belief in the trade relationship “should go a long way in restoring confidence and end any concerns of a trade war,” Marchand said.

Topped off by the Howe bridge being prominent in the statement, the meeting certainly turned out to be “very positive for the Windsor-Essex County region,” he said.

“It’s clear the (Trump) administration was very well-briefed on the importance of the relationship between the two countries,” Marchand said. “That’s a credit to our diplomatic corps and their preparation for the meeting. Their efforts clearly paid off here.”

http://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/howe-bridge-highlighted-during-trudeau-trump-meeting

Trump Order Not Effecting Border

Windsor-Detroit border traffic not impacted by U.S. travel ban

CTV Windsor 

Published Wednesday, February 1, 2017 4:59PM EST 

Last Updated Wednesday, February 1, 2017 6:42PM EST

It’s been four days since U.S. President Donald Trump made headlines for his travel ban for people from seven countries.

It would appear the impact, so far has yet to be felt locally, even though leaders and residents on both sides of the border continue to voice concerns about getting across borders like that of Windsor-Detroit.

People who don’t have a Canadian passport, but might be from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will not be allowed to travel into the United States for at least the next 90 days.

Steve Ondejko, president on Onfreight says he thinks it was overblown.

He says none of Onfreights loads have been stopped or even delayed in clearing the Windsor-Detroit border this week.

Officials at both the Windsor-Detroit tunnel and Ambassador Bridge report no impact on traffic.

“It’s unclear as to what the actual restrictions are going to place on our industry in particular,” says Ondejko.

Ondejko admits however, all of his 100 drivers have Canadian passports and none are from the seven countries currently under a travel ban.

Bill Anderson chair of the Cross Border Institute says most of the trade, between Ontario and the United States goes across by truck.

Anderson says they are scrambling to collect information about what’s to come. He says even if the border has been moving efficiently and Canadian travellers aren’t delayed, they could be.

“It comes in when people are getting stopped for prolonged periods, that’s when it could start to have an impact on Canadian commuters. There’s a lot of confusion about who’s actually going to get caught up in this.

http://windsor.ctvnews.ca/mobile/windsor-detroit-border-traffic-not-impacted-by-u-s-travel-ban-1.3266950

Moroun Continues to Abuse the Legal System

State of Michigan seeking quick dismissal of latest Moroun suit

John Gallagher , Detroit Free PressPublished 10:29 a.m. ET Jan. 31, 2017 | Updated 3 hours ago

The State of Michigan is seeking an expedited ruling to quash the latest attempt by businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun to delay or block construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.

The dispute in the Michigan Court of Claims in Lansing stems from the attempt by the Michigan Department of Transportation to use its eminent domain powers to take some Moroun-owned land in southwest Detroit’s Delray district for the Gordie Howe Bridge project. Late last year, MDOT made what it described as a good-faith offer of $11,520,000 for the Moroun-owned land on West Jefferson Avenue in a filing in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Besides opposing that action in Wayne County, Moroun filed suit in the Court of Claims, where actions against the state are brought, seeking a ruling that Gov. Rick Snyder lacked the authority to negotiate a deal with Canada to build the bridge. As Moroun attorney Mike Cox, the former state attorney general, said when filing the Moroun action, “We say any bridge that is going to be built has to follow the law.”

In its response filed Monday, the state argued that a quick dismissal of Moroun’s Court of Claims suit was needed “to prevent Mr. Manuel Moroun from doing what he has done so often in recent years — misusing the legal process to delay the Gordie Howe International Bridge and preserve his monopoly on cross-border bridge traffic between Detroit and Windsor.”

Moroun and his family own and operate the privately held Ambassador Bridge, the venue for an enormous amount of cross-border trade and traffic. The family has fought the publicly owned Gordie Howe Bridge project tenaciously for years because the  new bridge is likely to siphon off a significant amount of trade and traffic, and the profits that come with them, from the Ambassador Bridge.

As the state’s filing Monday noted, Moroun has filed multiple lawsuits over the years in courts in Michigan, Washington, D.C., and Canada seeking to block the Gordie Howe Bridge. So far, he has lost on all major points and the bridge project is proceeding.

Recently the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority issued its request for bids to three teams of finalists vying to get the contract to build and operate the span. The authority is expected to name a winning team in 2018, followed by construction, with the new bridge opening around 2022.

Six Moroun-owned companies — Crown Enterprises, DIBDetroit, Riverview-Trenton Railroad, Central Transport, CE Detroit and the Detroit International Bridge Co. —  filed the lawsuit on Dec. 29 in Michigan Court of Claims against Snyder, MDOT and the Michigan Strategic Fund. The lawsuit argues that the state is improperly seeking to use eminent domain to take property from the companies because the state constitution gives the Legislature — not the governor — the authority to build international bridges.

Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or gallagher@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.

http://www.freep.com/story/money/business/michigan/2017/01/31/moroun-bridge-michigan-lawsuit/97254572/

Battling a Giant

Gregg vs. Goliath

For years, a small truck ferry owner has been hauling hazardous materials across the Detroit River and battling Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. But if he wins, he will probably put himself out of business.

BY JACK LESSENBERRY // PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACOB LEWKOW 

Published: January 31, 2017 

FERRY OWNER GREGG WARD TAKES AN INTERNATIONAL VIEW OF THE DETROIT-WINDSOR BORDER.

Today, if the ice isn’t too thick, a few trucks that carry hazardous materials or are just too big for the Ambassador Bridge will squeeze themselves onto a 45-year-old ferry, the Lac St. Jean, at a hard-to-find dock a couple miles south of downtown.

When the trucks are aboard, Capt. David Seymour will fire up the engines of the Stormont, a battered, old Canadian tugboat, and chug off across the Detroit River, collect a few more vehicles, chat with the customs folks, and then chug on back.

The Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry might, on a good day, haul 50 trucks across the water. That compares to, oh, 8-10,000 or so trucks that roll across the Ambassador Bridge every day.

There’s very little comparison — or love lost — between the men behind each operation. 

The Ambassador Bridge is owned by Matty Moroun, 89, one of the richest people in Michigan.

The bridge itself was completed in 1929, just as the greatest depression in American history was settling in.

Moroun managed to outmaneuver legendary investor Warren Buffett and gain complete control of the bridge in 1979.

He also owns a vast trucking empire, CenTra, plus the hulking ruin of the Michigan Central Station, and vast swatches of what are often called slum properties around both his bridge and what will be the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, the creation of which Moroun has fought ferociously for years.

Forbes magazine has rated Moroun’s net worth at around $1.6 billion. 

The Detroit Windsor-Truck Ferry was started on April 22, 1990, — Earth Day — by Gregg Ward and his father, John.

The date was appropriate. The Ambassador Bridge isn’t certified as safe for hazardous materials. These days, the elder Ward has been ailing, and his son has been running the business.

Gregg Ward is outwardly cheerful and warm, and looks a decade younger than his 55 years. But his life is anything but easy. Instead of a mansion in Grosse Pointe Shores, he has a nice but modest home in Dearborn. A divorced father of two, he doesn’t often see his daughter Emily, who is in college in Europe. (His former wife moved back to her native Iceland.) His life revolves around caring for his 20-year-old autistic son, Michael, to whom he is totally dedicated.

It would be safe to say that those who compile the Forbes list of the richest Americans have never heard of Gregg Ward.

“You know, we started this thinking it would be a part-time job, and it became our lives,” he tells me over lunch at Johnny Noodle King in southwest Detroit, not far from his ferry.

For him, in many ways, this business is ideal, since it allows him the flexibility to take care of his son. But there’s a cloud on the horizon; once the Gordie Howe bridge is open to traffic, Ward expects it will put him out of business.

“The new bridge should be safe for hazardous materials,” he says, as well as being large enough to carry the huge windmill pylons that now use his ferry service.

That means the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry will no longer be able to compete. 

You might think that would make Ward as determined as Moroun to stop the new bridge.

But you’d be totally wrong.

For more than a decade, long before Rick Snyder ever thought of running for governor, Ward has fought for a new bridge.

He does that, to be sure, because he doesn’t like how Moroun does business or treats people.

His stories about the billionaire could fill a book, and would undoubtedly invite lawsuits from Moroun, whose love of litigation is legendary. 

“What some might get out of a night with Marilyn Monroe, Matty gets out of suing people,” former Gov. James Blanchard, who had worked both for and against Moroun as a lobbyist, once told me.

But most of all, Ward thinks a new bridge is essential for this region’s survival. “If it didn’t happen and something happened to put the old bridge out of commission, this region would be so euchered …” he says.

He shakes his head. “I don’t know why the business leaders, the automotive companies especially, aren’t calling more loudly for the bridge to be built.”

What’s not in dispute is this: Around half a billion dollars in goods, mainly heavy auto components, trundle across the Ambassador every day. Unfortunately the bridge is not only wearing out, showering concrete onto a Windsor neighborhood last year, but it’s also in the wrong place for traffic patterns. Trucks crossing into Canada have a dozen lights to get through before they get to Highway 401.

That’s starkly inefficient, which is why at peak times, you can see traffic backed up onto I-75. That won’t happen with the Gordie Howe; the Canadians have built carefully landscaped access roads to whisk traffic on to their freeway system.

But progess lags on the Michigan side, around Delray, the area where the bridge would be anchored. 

Ward is worried. “Delay, delay, delay,” he says.

He’s also suspicious that Mayor Mike Duggan is dragging his heels on transferring jurisdiction over roadways and easements, so that work on things like electrical connections can start.

“I worry that he is doing a deal with Moroun,” Ward says. 

The Ambassador Bridge owner has long argued that he should be allowed to build a new bridge at his own expense, next to his old one.

But that would make no sense from either an environmental or traffic point of view. 

A spokesman for the mayor denied any deal: “We continue to support the Gordie Howe bridge, and we are committed to ensuring that the needs of those who live in the community are addressed,” says Jed Howbert, executive director of the mayor’s Jobs & Economy Team (JET).

But Ward isn’t too sure.

Moroun’s idea of “twinning” his current bridge seems to be an obsession, but probably also a fantasy. Higher-up Canadian officials have told me they will never allow that.

Ottawa is so committed to the Gordie Howe bridge, Canada is even going to pick up Michigan’s half-billion dollar share of the tab, money Canada will supposedly be repaid someday out of the tolls.

But Moroun’s fantasy is a rich one. 

“Every year of delay is that much more in profits for the Morouns,” Ward says, and that much more lost to businesses on both sides of the border. 

Ward, who grew up in Indiana and moved to Michigan at 17, has always seen things in terms of an international focus. After earning a BA in international studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, he went to the Université Laval in Quebec to be certified as fluent in French, before earning an MBA in finance from Michigan State University.

He’s been a business consultant and adviser for a dozen countries, including the Baltic States and Romania, but sees the U.S.-Canada relationship as key to our economic future.

Ward does think the Gordie Howe bridge will eventually happen; his guess is that it might be ready for traffic by 2022.

What he will do then is a good question. But he is almost universally regarded as an honest and caring person.

And nobody knows bridge issues like he does. 

“Gregg has an exhaustive knowledge of the subject,” longtime investigative reporter Joel Thurtell has noted. “Those of us who have written about the proposed new bridge owe Gregg Ward a huge debt for maintaining what amounts to a digital news service that keeps us up to date.”

Ward’s also politically and economically savvy. But when I ask whether he might ever consider a career in politics, he laughs. 

“How can you compromise on the most basic things? I can’t see myself going up to the worst sons of bitches and shake hands and acting like everything is fine,” he says. 

I decided I didn’t need to ask who he meant. 

http://www.hourdetroit.com/Hour-Detroit/February-2017/Gregg-vs-Goliath/

Gordie Howe is Good for the Great Lakes Region

Letter to President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau

OTTAWA, Jan. 27, 2017 /CNW/ –

His Excellency the Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C.

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.

Prime Minister of Canada

Langevin Block

Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A2

Dear Mr. President and Prime Minister:

The United States of America and Canada share a very special relationship that has been forged through commerce, combat, mutual aid in times of crisis, friends and family, and our mutual commitment to conserving the environment for future generations. As inscribed on the Peace Arch between Blaine, Washington and Douglas, British Columbia, we are truly children of a common mother and brethren dwelling together in unity.

As you begin to work together to advance the United States (U.S.) – Canada relationship under your leadership, the Council of the Great Lakes Region would like to offer the following observations.  We hope they are useful as you strengthen this unique bilateral relationship during your time in office.

The U.S. and Canada make things together. We innovate and learn together. Together our farmers feed our families and communities. It is a dynamic partnership that has led to one of the most important and successful economic relationships in the world. In fact, Canada is the top export destination for 35 states. The U.S. also accounts for 51 per cent of global investment into Canada.

Conversely, Canada is the biggest supplier of energy to the U.S., the second largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food products to the U.S., and is a trusted and integrated supplier of inputs into U.S. manufacturing – automotive, aerospace, life sciences, information and communications technologies. Overall, Canada sells more to the U.S. in one year than to the rest of the world combined over three years. As a result, nearly 9 million U.S. jobs depend on Canada.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region is the heart and soul of this economic relationship. Home to 107 million Americans and Canadians, this binational region straddles the international border and encompasses eight U.S. states – Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and two Canadian provinces – Ontario and Quebec.

Border crossings in the region comprise 74 per cent of the total value of imports and exports moving across all ports of entry between the two countries by rail, truck and pipeline. With a GDP of USD $5.8 trillion, if taken as a separate economic unit, the region would be the third largest economy in the world after the U.S. and China, supporting some 50 million jobs, or roughly one-third of the combined American and Canadian workforce.

Moreover, the region boasts one-fifth of U.S. and one-half of Canadian manufacturing. In 2011, the region accounted for nearly 24.1 per cent and 72.1 per cent of R&D funding in the U.S. and Canada and generated 26.2 per cent and 68 per cent of patents in the U.S. and Canada respectively in 2012. Furthermore, the region is home to 20 of the world’s top 100 universities.

As you consider the next steps in the bilateral relationship, our experience in the region shows that there is more we can do to modernize, align and in some cases eliminate duplicate regulations across sectors at the federal–state/provincial level that would create growth in the region and improve the ease of doing business by reducing red tape. Smart regulations do not equal less stringent regulations. To this end, the Council encourages you to continue and accelerate the work of the Regulatory Cooperation Council.

Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBET) are multi-agency law enforcement teams that target cross-border criminal activity on land and in the marine environment through initiatives like Shiprider, a program that sees U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian law enforcement personnel jointly patrol shared waterways, including in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region. They have shown how we can effectively monitor and protect the longest border in the world. Therefore, IBETs should be expanded and strengthened.

Similarly, there is more that we can do to secure the border while pre-clearing and expediting the movement of legitimate people and goods, as well as sharing customs and border resources in joint facilities, as we try to institutionalize the “checked once, approved twice” approach to trade and mobility between our two countries.

The enactment of the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act by Congress in December 2016, coupled with a companion bill that is awaiting approval in Canada, provides the legal framework for establishing a modern, seamless border in an increasingly borderless global economy. Thickening the border as a result of duplicate inspection and enforcement or implementing tax measures at the border, would add billions of dollars in extra operating costs for business and government in the region and could have a cooling affect on bilateral imports and exports.

Over the last decade world trade in goods has increased dramatically from less than $8 trillion in 2003 to more than $18.5 trillion in 2013. Over the same period, trade in services has more than doubled, from $2 trillion to $4.7 trillion. This growth has been precipitated in many cases by specialized economic zones (SEZs), also known as Free Trade or export processing zones (EPZs), which now number in the thousands around the globe and can exist across international borders. Establishing a public-private Great Lakes FTZ between our two countries in the region would be a game changer for business and attracting investment, as it would create a favourable tax and tariff treatment regime across the entire region as well as provide greater flexibility in how companies warehouse and transport goods.

In the eight Great Lakes states, there are over 7.0 million SMEs, or 26% of small businesses in the U.S. However, only 123,249 of these firms exported goods in 2014, supporting about 1.7 million American jobs. The value of SME exports to Canada in 2015, the top export destination for most small firms in the region, was USD$110.8 billion. In the same vein, almost 60% of all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada, many of them manufacturers, are based in Ontario and Quebec, supporting 6.4 million Canadian jobs. The destination for their exports is the U.S., which accounted for 88.1% of total exports of small businesses and 96.2% of exports of medium-sized businesses. However, only 21.3% of Ontario’s and 21.5% of Quebec’s SMEs exported in 2014.

Capacity constraints limit SMEs in tackling border regulations, understanding market opportunities, identifying appropriate partners and clients, and accessing capital or incentives. As a result, we must do more to scale up SMEs and get them export ready in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region through better market intelligence, as well as more targeted advisory and financial supports.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region consists of an expansive network of continental highways, bridges, airports and rail lines, 15 large international marine ports and 50 regional marine ports, and the bi-national Saint Lawrence Seaway and its 19 locks that together connect the region to the continent and industry to global markets in Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

However, this critical infrastructure is aging and in desperate need of renewal (e.g. the Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan). As well, new transportation assets need to be built to accommodate regional economic growth, build greater connectivity within the region and to world markets, and improve supply chain resiliency (e.g. Gordie Howe International Bridge and associated customs plazas).

Modernizing the region’s infrastructure presents a tremendous opportunity to put American and Canadian workers, capital and building products like steel to work for the benefit of both countries. Therefore, please work together to prioritize and invest in the renewal and construction of trade enabling infrastructure in the region using public-private partnerships, a viable means of addressing our shared infrastructure deficit at a time of constrained public budgets.

The binational Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region is a strategic energy market in North America and transit corridor with assets in exploration, production, and distribution of fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy. In fact, the earliest record of energy trade between Canada and the U.S. dates to the construction of a cross-border electricity interconnection near Niagara Fall in 1901.

As both your governments consider ways to reduce toxic air emissions and shift to cleaning burning energy to fuel our homes and industries, there are opportunities to share more clean energy across the border, but we first need to establish an integrated electricity market and system for managing trade and reliability. Imagine the environmental impact and capital cost savings that could be realized for states in the Northeast-Midwest of the U.S. if Canada was able to export more hydropower or nuclear energy to these jurisdictions.

Over the last decade, we have witnessed the development of unique industry clusters within the region’s metropolitan areas including Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Toronto and Montreal, from life sciences and aerospace to robotics, food and water. A number of distinct cross-border, trade corridors also exist, such as Detroit-Windsor, Buffalo-Niagara, and Port Huron-Sarnia. There are many advantages to doing business within these clusters and corridors together in terms of economic development, science and innovation.

Countries that invest in incubating and accelerating discovery and supporting scientific breakthroughs will lead a knowledge economy that is being further defined by big data, analytics and cognitive computing. Our universities, industries, entrepreneurs, and scientists in the region’s corridors can be at the forefront of defining solutions to the world’s biggest social, economic and environmental problems. I encourage you to help unleash the full potential of these cross-border collaborations by removing barriers to shared science and innovation that are often engrained in our national granting councils and government programs.

Finally, the watershed of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, a defining feature of much of this economic region, is comprised of a number of vital freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems to both countries and the world. The Great Lakes themselves hold about 18% of the world’s and 84% of North America’s surface freshwater, supplying clean drinking water to over 40 million Americans and Canadians. In addition, estimates suggest that more than 3,500 species of plants and animals inhabit the Great Lakes basin, making it a unique and complicated ecosystem.

The U.S. and Canada share a long tradition of working together to protect and conserve ecosystems straddling the border through the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and the International Joint Commission and other mechanisms like the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. It is worth noting that protecting our natural capital, such as the restoration of the Great Lakes, is one issue that continues to receive widespread bipartisan support in Congress and the House of Commons. Moreover, restoring contaminated sites and renewing brownfield developments also makes good economic sense, as some projects have shown a return of $15 in net economic benefit for every dollar invested by taxpayers.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region is a non-profit, non-partisan binational organization that was established in 2013 to deepen the U.S. – Canada relationship in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region, and create a stronger, more dynamic culture of collaboration between government, business, academia and non-profit leaders in harnessing the region’s economic strengths while enhancing the well-being of the region’s citizens and protecting the environment for future generations.

We achieve this mandate by conducting insightful, evidence-based public policy research, convening diverse perspectives through events like the Great Lakes Economic Forum, and educating leaders about the importance of the region to the U.S. and Canada.

To this end, the Council stands ready to assist you in setting up the bilateral relationship for success over the weeks and months ahead and I would like to invite you to attend the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Detroit-Windsor from April 24-26, 2017. The Forum presents an opportunity for you to meet and solidify your priorities for expanding the U.S. – Canada partnership.

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss the Forum and the binational the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region with you in the near future.

Sincerely,

Mark P. Fisher

c.c.

Mr. Reince Priebus, Chief of Staff, President of the United States

Ms. Katie Telford, Chief of Staff, Prime Minister of Canada