Across the northern border into the maples

I was surprised by how much trade occurs between the United States and Canada.

I was selected to attend a study tour of Canada along with 12 other journalism students from across the United States. The Foreign Affairs Department of Canada hosted the trip. The purpose of the trip was to educate American journalism students about Canada. One of the most important things I learned was what a great ally and neighbor Canada is to us here in the United States. I learned that the trade relationship between us is one of the largest and most important relationships in the world. After learning how valuable the relationship is for both sides, I believe Canada is our most important ally. The United States needs to focus on maintaining a positive relationship with Canada.

During this trip we were able to see Canada from east to west. We started in Montreal and from there we went to Ottawa, the capital. Our next stop was in Calgary and then on to our final stop in Vancouver. We saw many things and learned about different parts of Canada by meeting policymakers, journalists and business people from all over Canada.

One of the things I found most surprising is how much trade goes across our border with Canada each day. I knew, based on our location, that there is a lot of trade with Canada, but I didn’t realize how much exactly. Canada and the United States have the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world. More than $1.4 billion in goods and services cross the border each day. In 2004 the total value of trade with the United States was more than $500 billion and in Minnesota it was $12.1 billion.

Included in all of these goods and services traded are energy, agricultural products and border security. While in Calgary we met the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Energy is such a big concern for America, and Canada is the largest energy supplier to the United States. Canada is a big supplier of crude oil and natural gas. In 2004 here in Minnesota, three of our top four imports were crude petroleum, natural gas and electricity. Minnesota purchased $4.9 billion worth of energy from Canada.

Another big industry is agriculture. Canada is a big producer of beef, pork and swine, grains and oilseeds and horticultural products. In the United States and in Minnesota agricultural trade is big. Of the $12.1 billion in Minnesota-Canada trade, $897.4 million is in agriculture and agri-food products. However Canada is also the biggest purchaser of U.S. agricultural products. Here in Minnesota a lot of money comes from the sales of agricultural products to Canada.

The one thing I took away most from our trip was that the U.S.-Canada trade relationship is very important to both countries. It provides many goods and services and helps maintain and create jobs on both sides of the border. Based on the statistics Canada is our most important ally. The United States needs to focus on maintaining a positive relationship with Canada.

Patrick Foulks is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected].