Op-Ed By: Joe Comartin (Consul General of Canada to the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky)
As Canada’s Consul General to the state of Michigan, and lifelong resident of Windsor, Ontario it is beyond obvious that our two nations are inextricably linked. In fact, it is so obvious that many of us, sometimes even myself included, can be accused of taking the Canada-U.S. trade and investment relationship for granted. Michigan World Trade Week is a perfect opportunity to reaffirm the very special trade relationship that puts people to work on both sides of the border and helps our businesses become internationally savvy.
Canada is Michigan’s closest neighbour and biggest market. From our largest manufacturers to our smallest shops, Michigan and Canada exchanged over U.S. $68 billion worth of merchandise and services last year. As our largest trading relationship with any state, Canada sells more to Michigan that it does to China, the U.K., and Japan combined. Michigan sells more to Canada than to its next eight largest foreign markets combined. Much of this trade is in intermediate goods, demonstrating that we really do make things together. The new USMCA which came into force July, 2020, will reinforce this reality. Even better, it includes provisions that make trade more inclusive and accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises, women, Indigenous Peoples, and other groups.
Likewise, we invest and grow together. Canadian investments help generate jobs in Michigan and vice versa. In fact, there are 360 Canadian-owned businesses employing over 33,600 employees in Michigan. The Consulate’s team of committed trade commissioners routinely facilitate trade between the two countries. They engage directly with companies of all sizes, stakeholders, thought leaders and key partners — including the Detroit Regional Partnership. Our dedicated staff serve as a key conduit between the two countries and are committed to providing timely research, market intelligence and help you explore an array of support programs. The Consulate stands ready to lend a hand and identify international investment trends and opportunities. By leveraging our network, we can help assess your potential in specific markets, connect you with qualified contacts, or solve a market access problem.
As the global pandemic hit our nations worked together to prioritize essential workers and keep our trade and supply chains healthy, while limiting non-essential travel. Commercial traffic volumes rebounded quickly, proving that we are reliable suppliers to one another.
Tunnels and bridges are physical connections supporting our dynamic and evolving economy. The new, six-lane Gordie Howe International Bridge will improve the efficiency and predictability of our already highly integrated supply chains. The bridge and its associated ports of entry will enable border and security agencies to do their jobs more effectively. It will offer a much needed alternative at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway where approximately 25% of all U.S.-Canada surface trade crosses. Construction on this project is well underway as we begin to see the bridge piers emerge on the shores of the Detroit River. Canada and Michigan are bound together by more than good will, geography, and infrastructure. As North American neighbours, our fortunes and futures are inextricably linked. And that is something none of us should fail to appreciate.