Canada Pressures The United States Again
Here is a fascinating speech delivered by the Industry Minister a few days ago.
I just cannot believe truly how stupid the Canadian Government is. The arrogance of the Conservatives in power is bewildering. They seem to have forgotten already about NAFTA-gate.
If you read the speech properly, you will see that Canada is intervening again in the American Presidential election. Have they been reading the public opinion polls and seen that Senator Obama might not be the US President after all since the polls are very close? Are they trying to help Senator McCain win since he is the champion of Free Trade between Canada and the United States? Or will this be another dumb mistake again just like their intervention in the Democratic Party primaries that will hurt Canada, especially if Obama wins?
If that is their strategy, they are doing it in a way that makes no sense. Pressuring Americans is not smart as Mickey Kantor made clear in his radio interview that I Blogged. The Minister’s speech talked more about NAFTA and Canadian energy exports to the United States—oil, gas and electricity and Canada being their number one supplier-- than about trade liberalization and border infrastructure.
That was the threat used by the Prime Minister when he was speaking at the Press Conference with the US President at the SPP meeting earlier this year. In effect, he warned the United States that if Canada was hurt by any NAFTA renegotiations then the Americans might not get Canadian energy.
Yeah, right. That is a real smart tactic to use. You know the saying about when the Americans sneeze Canada gets pneumonia. If the border is "thick" now, just wait and see what other non-tariff barriers can be imposed like the"customs rule that requires foreign ships to notify customs of details of U.S.-bound cargo 24 hours before it's loaded on the boat" described in the Star today. So far, it does not apply to trucks at land crossings.
- "It could be paralyzing and devastating for the border," said Jayson Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. "
If an American Secretary had made these kinds of comments during a Canadian election there would have been hell to pay.
Note how little was said about the border crossing in our area. More importantly, look at the choice of language.
- “This Gateway includes the vital Detroit–Windsor border, where a new crossing is planned.”
Which new crossing is being referred to: the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project or the DRIC bridge? The language is deliciously ambiguous.
If in fact it does mean the DRIC bridge, then here is another Minister of the Federal Government disrespecting the process. Note the past tense of “planned.” In other words, the decision has already been made even while the DRIC study is ongoing in Canada and the US.
As an aside, I wanted to see what the Americans said about Prentice’s speech but in a quick search, I could not find any American news outlet that even covered it.
It is important to read and that is why I have included all of it in this BLOG.
- The Honourable Jim Prentice, PC, QC, MP
Minister of Industry
Americas Competitiveness Forum
August 18, 2008
Bom dia, buenos dias, bonjour and good day. Thank you for your kind introduction. It is an honour to participate in this forum with so many distinguished participants from across the Americas.
It is fitting that Atlanta is our host city. World-class transportation and communications have made this city a focal point in the global economic system. Atlanta is one model we could follow in strengthening competitiveness across the Americas.
Earlier today I met Secretary Gutierrez and Secretary Ruiz to discuss ways to improve North American competitiveness as a follow-up to our leaders' meeting in New Orleans earlier this year.
Today, I want to discuss trade liberalization and border infrastructure.
Then, I'll talk about the importance of our integrated North American energy market to competitiveness.
Finally, I'll discuss the importance of strengthening gateways and trade logistics in North America and across the Americas.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a great success for Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Trade in goods and services among our countries has tripled since 1993 to almost $1 trillion a year. Investments, jobs and gross domestic product have all increased — improving the lives of our citizens.
NAFTA has set a solid foundation for our people and companies to build regional platforms and forge continental, as well as global, supply chains.
Canada and the U.S. enjoy the world's largest trading relationship. Our borders clear nearly $2 billion in trade every day. That's double what it was just five years ago, and it is behind more than 7 million U.S. jobs, as well as one in five Canadian jobs. Canada is the single largest export market for 35 states and buys more from the U.S. than all 27 members of the European Union combined and four times more than China.
In fact, NAFTA has served all three countries well since it entered into force in 1994. It has made all three partners more competitive, and it allows producers of goods and service providers to better realize their potential by operating a larger, more integrated market.
In 2006, the NAFTA partners' foreign direct investment holdings in North America were worth almost $523.7 billion. Canada continues to work with Mexico and the U.S. to find ways to further increase North American trade and investment and boost competitiveness and prosperity in all three economies.
But groups like the North American Competitiveness Council and the Canadian and U.S. chambers of Commerce warned in a joint report that new fees and regulations are creating costly delays at the Canada–U.S. border.
Last summer, my government appointed an independent panel of five key Canadian business leaders, led by Red Wilson, to review key elements of Canada's competition and investment policies. The Competition Policy Review Panel recently released its report and stressed that the "thickening" of our border since 9/11 is "threatening the viability of the fully integrated NAFTA business model."
Canada recognizes the importance of our trade relationship with the U.S. We are committed to improving security at our borders. This is a vital part of our competitiveness and future prosperity. We are working to create smarter, more efficient borders and to improve their infrastructure.
While our North American relationship is vitally important, it would be a mistake to think Canadian interests end at Mexico. Strengthening our partnerships in the Americas is one of our Prime Minister's top priorities. The proximity of the economies of the Americas to one another is a distinct competitive advantage, and we need to make this advantage work better for us.
Eleven years ago, we were the first country to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with Chile. Now our government has signed an FTA with Peru and has concluded FTA negotiations with Colombia. And we are exploring the possibility of one with Panama.
Canada will continue its re-engagement, given the outcome at Doha a few weeks ago, to ensure that FTAs work even better for exporters, importers and citizens, and to reinforce our existing FTAs.
But it's not just asphalt and concrete that link our economies together. Electrical power lines and oil and gas pipelines are equally important in binding our economies.
Canada is the largest source of energy imports to the U.S. Our annual exports are close to $100 billion.
On oil alone, Canada has been the largest supplier to the U.S. since 1999 — not Saudi Arabia, not Kuwait, nor any other producer from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). We have 14 percent of global oil reserves — putting us second only to Saudi Arabia.
Canada is a stable supplier of energy to the U.S. — whether it is gas and oil in the West or integrated electricity grids in the East. And being close means lower delivery costs than most other power suppliers.
Developing our oil sands has had its environmental challenges, but we've come a long way. Our Prime Minister insists that Canada be the most responsible environmental producer of oil and gas in the world. Since 1990, industry has reduced the CO2 intensity of oil sands production by 45 percent. We will also be introducing tough new regulations that will require even more dramatic cuts.
Building on the gains in technologies over the last five years, we need to continue to expand clean energy technologies, such as the Canada–U.S. cooperation on a pilot project that piped CO2 from North Dakota into a partially depleted Saskatchewan oilfield. Our leaders agreed in New Orleans to pursue more opportunities like this one.
Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are also harmonizing many of our energy efficiency standards. We are working on ways to promote biofuels and enhance our electricity networks. Together, we can address North America's air quality and other environmental challenges.
Just as energy security is critical to North American competitiveness, so are our supply chain dynamics.
To improve the flow of goods and people between Canada and the rest of the world, Canada is investing $2 billion through our Gateways and Border Crossings Fund.
We are building three strategic Gateways.
There is the Asia–Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative. It connects Canada's West with the Pacific Coast of the Americas and Asia.
Last fall, the first containers from Asia were unloaded in the new deep-water intermodal terminal in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The speed and efficiency of this new terminal allowed those first containers to reach Chicago only 12 days after leaving Yokohama, Japan. And all of those containers were X-rayed at Prince Rupert.
Another is our Atlantic Gateway. It will connect eastern Canada with the eastern seaboard of the Americas and Europe.
The third is the Ontario–Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor. It connects the West and the East to the centre of the United States and the rest of the Americas. This Gateway includes the vital Detroit–Windsor border, where a new crossing is planned.
But even the most modern infrastructure doesn't guarantee the most efficient flow of trade.
That's why we are also moving to 100-percent electronic transmission of commercial trade. To improve logistics, we are using similar criteria for admitting companies to our Partners in Protection and the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) programs.
We've also heard a call to action to improve upon what we've done to date. A World Bank report last year suggested that trade logistics is critical to harness global trade and reap the benefits of globalization. It said that success in integrating into global supply chains hinges on a company's ability to move goods across borders rapidly, reliably and cheaply.
We should all be concerned that the report showed that of the 150 countries reviewed, the Americas had one country in the top 10, two in the top 30 and four in the top 50. By contrast, Asia had three countries in the top 10, seven in the top 30 and nine in the top 50. We have some catching up to do.
The private sector has an important role to play.
In the last two decades, a logistics industry has been created to manage these supply chains. This has allowed countless small and medium-sized enterprises to act as "globalized" players. And this industry has kept government up to date on the logjams that hinder competitiveness.
We need to make trade logistics and border infrastructure a priority in the short term or lose opportunities to other global competitors who are better organized to facilitate trade.
To conclude, trade liberalization and improving infrastructure are absolutely vital to enhancing prosperity across the Americas. Governments and businesses have important roles to play here.
Canada is committed to improving North American competitiveness and to doing its part in making the Americas more prosperous.
Now more than ever, we must take advantage of our proximity to each other so that we can reap all of the benefits offered by trade liberalization in our hemisphere.
Thank you, merci, gracias and obrigado.