Overview

 

The Canadian American Business Council is the voice of business in the world's most prosperous relationship. The Council promotes the unique relationship between the world’s two closest allies and most integrated trading partners. Canada and the U.S. don’t just share the same land, air and water; we are in the same boat together. Our proximity, history, shared democratic values, and our destinies are as intertwined as any two societies on Earth. This ensures that there is a great deal of work to be done to enhance our mutual progress in an increasingly globalized, complicated and perilous world.

 

       I.        Integrated Economy

 

Joint Regulatory Initiatives

Since the days of the fur trade, the North American economy has been integrated. Today, both countries must collaborate deeply in order to allow that integration to create joint prosperity. Established in 2011, the Regulatory Cooperation Council and the Beyond the Border Initiative continue to work to diminish the negative impacts of regulatory differences between Canada and the United States.  The Canadian American Business Council believes these to bilateral initiatives are important drivers of economic growth for our trading relationship and should be institutionalized so that they survive successive governments.

 

Regulatory harmonization is central to enhancing cross-border business and stimulating job growth.  With continued commitment to implement from the two governments, civil society and the private sector, the CABC believes these initiatives have the potential to put Canada and the United States into a more competitive global economic position.  We need to continue to call for timely progress against goals and hold regulators accountable for real, measurable progress in each of the working groups.

 

Regulatory initiatives must also be cognizant of the impact of regulations state, provincial and municipal governments. Fractures, multi-jurisdictional approaches to regulation with falls under shared or sole jurisdiction of these sub-governments can undermine the high leave initiatives of the Regulatory Cooperation Council and the Beyond the Border Initiative. Integrating goals of harmonization and cooperation at these levels with ensure ongoing competitiveness and prosperity for both Canada and the US.

 

Standards Alignment

In addition to harmonizing government regulations, we think it is important to examine the misalignment of voluntary standards here in North America. Only about 10% of standards between Canada and the US are currently harmonized.  The US Department of Commerce estimates that standards and conformity assessment impact more than 80% of global commodity trade.  For example, 77% of certification costs for manufacturers of water heaters come from inspection of products as they must use 19 different testing bodies to comply with North American requirements alone.  The issue of standards harmonization is hurting America's ability to trade effectively and costing billions per year.  CABC proposes several solutions to remedying this issue including:

 

Canada and US work together to ensure mutual interests are advanced in international platforms like the International Organization of Standardization and the International Electro Technical Commission,

The creation of a "North American Standards Strategy", working with internationally accepted principles of standardization endorsed by the WTO;

Formally requesting that Canadians be appointed to US technical advisory groups and vice versa.

Border Cooperation & Improved Infrastructure

Canada and the United States have deeply connected infrastructure. The cross-border flow of goods, people and energy is important to maintaining and improving commerce between our two countries. Canada is the country best suited in terms of safety, security, and predictability to supply U.S. requirements for many resources. From the integrated electricity grid to pipelines, energy infrastructure enables economic growth.

 

In addition, approximately 400,000 people cross the Canada/U.S. border each day, as does an average of U.S. $1.7 billion in commerce. Efficiency of bridges and border crossing is critical to the livelihoods of millions of Canadians and Americans as well as the efficiency of all North American sectors vis a vis their global competitors.  We renew our call for a bilateral, government-sanctioned border hackathon to identify ways in which the cross border flow of legitimate commerce could be made more efficient from a public and private sector point of view.

 

Labor and Skills

A strong workforce is critical to a strong North America. The Canadian American Business Council supports policies that will promote a strong workforce, including efficient labor mobility between countries and improved workforce skills.  Currently, workers face barriers to moving seamlessly between the two countries, including Chapter 16 of NAFTA and certain outdated  immigration policies. The CABC believes that these barriers should be examined to improve labor mobility. Industry in North America also faces a skills gap, as businesses want skills that workers do not have and workers have skills that business do not want. CABC believes that a number of initiatives should be considered to alleviate this issue, including:

 

Communication between industry and education sectors so that businesses can identify what skills they need to teach in schools

Efficient certification for those skills,

Mutual recognition by both countries of the skills certification standards used in its neighbor's country

       E. Innovation and Free Trade and collaboration around the world

 

 Canada and the United States have so much by way of shared values and common ideals. It is important that as technology evolves, applying our shared values enables adoption and rewards innovation. Our intellectual property regimes must be equal and highest quality that to reward innovation and spur competition. Our policies must also enable and reduce the barriers to cross border data flows.

 

The free trade relationship that exists between Canada and the United States is a driver of our mutual economic growth and an imperative of our shared prosperity in the future. Canada and the United States must remain committed to this free trade and reject protectionist tendencies that emerge from time to time.

 

            II. Shared Ecosystem

 

The border that separates Canada and the United States does not separate the watersheds, rain, and air that freely cross the 49th parallel. The Canadian American Business Council believes that it is important that our shared continental ecosystem be protected. That protection, through agreements on acid rain emissions, air quality, joint watershed and waterway management, and the sustainable development of resources is paramount to the growth of our relationship and our continental position in global environmental negotiations.

 

            III. Mutual Defense & Security

 

Canada and the United States have shared interests in the defense and security of our continent. From policing our shared border to participation in joint operations through NORAD and NATO, our two countries share a deep commitment to our mutual defense. Initiatives like the Shiprider program that allows the RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard to move in tandem protecting the waterways along the border demonstrate the interconnectedness of our security interests. The Permanent Joint Board on Defense remains an important tool for the Canadian and American militaries to have frank discussions and exchange views and information regarding joint security.

 

 Conclusion

 

The relationship between Canada and the United States is truly a model for the world. The CABC is pleased to facilitate dialogue on both sides of the border about how to collaborate on the major policy challenges of our time and plot a course for the future.