U.S. Department of Commerce
Office of Public Affairs
October 30, 2014
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
Remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Ambassador Heyman, for your kind introduction. I want to thank Rick Tachuk and AmCham Capital Region for hosting us today. I also want to acknowledge the strong working relationship between AmCham and our Foreign Commercial Service officers throughout Canada.
Our Senior Commercial Officer, Rich Steffens, is here with us today. Rich, can you please stand or raise your hand? If anyone in this room is looking for new U.S. partners, Rich and our Commercial Service staff should be your first point of contact.
We meet today in the shadow of last week’s heinous attacks on your parliament and in Quebec.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. I want to offer my deepest condolences to all who knew and loved them, and to people across Canada.
In good times and bad, Canada has always stood by the United States; as good friends and close allies, the United States will stand by you now.
We pledge to provide any assistance Canada needs in your response. And we will work together to prevent such terrifying acts of violence from ever happening again.
The United States and Canada share a unique and special friendship. We have no better partner when it comes to facing threats to our common security. And, similarly, we have no closer economically anywhere in the world.
I am here today to discuss the current state of the U.S.-Canada economic and commercial partnership, but I also want to focus on the opportunity presented by deepening economic integration across greater North America. Indeed, our long-term success requires us to see all of North America as a united engine for economic growth – founded on the strengths of the United States, Canada, and our neighbors in Mexico.
To build a brighter future for communities across our continent, the United States is committed to strengthening the North American commercial platform.
Let me begin with Canada.
Our bilateral economic relationship is the most efficient, most integrated, and most dynamic in the world. The success of our businesses and the prosperity of our people are inextricably intertwined.
Together, the United States and Canada generated $736 billion in bilateral trade in 2013– which breaks down to more than $2 billion a day, or $23,000 every second.
Simply put: ours is the largest trading relationship on the planet – and for good reason:
• We have deeply integrated North American supply chains;
• We enjoy ease of access thanks to geographic proximity;
• We share a language and similar consumer preferences; and
• We have an established free trade agreement.
As a result, more than 96,000 American companies currently export to Canada, and 70 percent of Canadian exports come to the United States.
These connections—and this legacy—is the foundation of our commercial relationship. But we can do even better, and our leaders know it. Prime Minister Harper and President Obama are committed to making it even easier for goods and people to move securely across the border.
In 2011, the U.S. and Canada launched two complimentary efforts that are moving us toward an even more seamless economic relationship: the Beyond the Border initiative and the Regulatory Cooperation Council.
The goal of Beyond the Border is to enhance our security while accelerating the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between our two countries. We are already seeing concrete outcomes that are making us more economically competitive.
For instance, membership in the U.S.-Canada NEXUS program – which allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to move with little or no delay across the border – has increased by nearly 50 percent since 2011 and recently celebrated its one-millionth member.
Beyond the Border initiatives like this are making a real difference for U.S. and Canadian companies, but we need to get the word out. The Department of Commerce—as the lead for the United States on outreach—wants to collaborate with our Canadian partners to raise awareness.
The Regulatory Cooperation Council, which met in Washington, last week, facilitates the coordination of our regulatory policies.
For example, when the Council began this process in 2011, only one-fifth of U.S. and Canadian auto safety standards matched. By the end of this year, more than two-thirds of our auto standards will be the same. This reduces costs for auto companies and consumers alike.
Going forward, our senior regulatory officials will work together to deepen and broaden our cooperation on both new and existing regulations. These types of initiatives deepen the economic ties between the United States and Canada. And they can serve as a model for a more integrated North American commercial and economic platform.
Make no mistake, the economic cooperation between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, is extensive and impressive. Our three countries comprise the largest free trade area in the world.
Each day, $3 billion worth of goods cross between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Our combined economic output already accounts for more than one-quarter of the world’s GDP. Our region is home to a skilled, productive workforce, as well as abundant and affordable energy. And all three of our nations are investing in research and development.
Our people and our economies are deeply intertwined, but with these advantages we can do more, which is part of why I am here in Canada this week. If our continued economic integration is well-managed, we can out-compete any region in the world.
I will be joining Minister for International Trade Fast and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Guajardo in Toronto tomorrow for the 4th annual North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference, or NACIC.
Our goal is to develop new ideas and initiatives to build on the progress we have collectively made toward North American economic integration over the last twenty years.
• We want to foster innovation – including through cross-border partnerships between business incubators and accelerators;
• We want to attract foreign direct investment to North America;
• We want to make cross-border trade and travel easier, faster, and cheaper;
• And this year, we are focusing on new areas, including big data, commercial cybersecurity, and entrepreneurship.
This will be my second year attending NACIC, and what I have learned, is that our collective competitiveness in the 21st century is a trilateral project. If we work together – across government and industry – we can position North America as the hub of innovation and the competitive destination of choice for investment and high-end manufacturing.
Before I close, I would like to take a moment to focus on the Trans Pacific Partnership. Canada, Mexico, and the United States are all committed to completing a high-standard agreement that opens new markets across the Asia-Pacific to goods and services made in each of our countries.
We are at a critical stage in TPP negotiations, and now is the time for all parties to work together, to be bold and creative in crafting an ambitious outcome—with high standard provisions in key areas like intellectual property protection, agricultural market access, and labor and environmental standards.
When NAFTA took effect 20 years ago, it laid the foundation for tremendous economic cooperation between our three countries, creating new markets and new opportunities. But that agreement, of course, didn’t reflect our world today. This is our opportunity to upgrade that transformational trade pact. TPP will be the next chapter of our economic integration, and is critical to our efforts to make North America the most globally competitive region in the world.
In 1961, President John Kennedy, in an address to the Canadian Parliament, recognized the critical role of U.S.-Canada economic relations. He declared that “Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners.”
More than half a century later, the economic partnership that President Kennedy referenced continues to thrive. And as Secretary of Commerce, I am proud to be a champion for this bilateral relationship and for economic growth across all of North America.
Together, let’s continue to trade and invest, build and innovate, and increase our competitiveness.
To be successful in this endeavor, we must partner with Canadian businesses like yours, and leaders like Minister Fast and Minister Moore.
Let’s keep the U.S.-Canada relationship – and all of North America – open for business, and open for more business together.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I am happy to take a few questions.