Canada and the US: A Strong Bond

The Calgary American Chamber of Commerce hosted an American Thanksgiving dinner this week, to which I was invited. Held at the Ranchman’s Club, it was a scrumptious, and enlightening, affair.

The US Consul General to Calgary, Tom Palaia, was the guest speaker before the meal. Knowing that he would face some tough questions about the recent US presidential elections, the CG made it clear early on that Canada’s relationship with the United States is strong and will endure, so have no fear.

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The Consul General began his remarks by stating that Canada and the US share the longest common international border in the world, shared between the second (US) and fourth (Canada) largest nations in the world by area. The two countries are deeply involved in each other’s economies. This common border and economic interests will keep the Canada-US relationship strong for the foreseeable future.

Shared Border

The terrestrial boundary (including small portions of maritime boundaries on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts, as well as long stretches in the Great Lakes) is 8,891 kilometers (5,525 mi) long, of which 2,475 kilometers (1,538 mi) is with Alaska. Eight Canadian provinces and territories (Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick), and 13 US states (Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine) are located along the border.

The International Boundary is commonly referred to as the world’s longest undefended border, but this is true only in the military sense: there are no troops on the border, but civilian law enforcement is present. It is illegal to pass between countries outside border controls. Everyone passing the border must be checked. The relatively low level of security measures stands in contrast to that of the United States–Mexico border (one-third as long as the Canada–US border), which is actively patrolled by US customs and immigration personnel to prevent illegal migration and drug trafficking.

US-Canada Trade Facts

In 2015, Canada was the United States’s largest goods export market . Additionally, in 2015, Canada was the United States’s 2nd largest supplier of goods imported.

US goods and services trade with Canada totaled an estimated $662.7 billion in 2015. Exports were $337.3 billion; imports were $325.4 billion. The US goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $11.9 billion in 2015.

Canada is currently the US’s 2nd largest goods trading partner with $575 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2015. Goods exports totaled $280 billion; goods imports totaled $295 billion. The US goods trade deficit with Canada was $15 billion in 2015.

According to the Department of Commerce, US exports of goods and services to Canada supported an estimated 1.7 million jobs in 2014 (latest data available) (1.3 million supported by goods exports and 394,000 supported by services exports).

Excellent Relations

Relations between Canada and the United States of America historically have been extensive, given a shared border and ever-increasing close cultural and economical ties and similarities.

The shared historical and cultural heritage has resulted in one of the most stable and mutually beneficial international relationships in the world. Despite recent difficulties, including repeated trade disputes, environmental concerns, Canadian concern for the future of oil exports, and issues of illegal immigration and the threat of terrorism, trade has continued to expand, especially following the 1988 FTA and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 which has further merged the two economies.

According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 86% of Americans view Canada’s influence positively, with only 5% expressing a negative view. However, according to the same poll, only 43% of Canadians view US influence positively, with 52% expressing a negative view. This negative view is often the result of perceived differences in attitudes toward climate change, trade, and use of natural resources, as well as perceived American cultural imperialism, resulting from the TV, movie, and music industries.

Our Canadian friends have said that it’s hard being in the shadow of the US, and admitted feeling like Canada is being “americanized” by its southern neighbor. However, outweighing those perceptions, there is the common heritage shared between the two, as well as the interweaving of families across the border. We have encountered no hint of animosity toward Americans here in Calgary.

All in all, Canada and the US thrive on their common commerce and commonalities, and this fact (and shared national defenses) likely guarantees that relations between the two nations will remain amiable and profitable for both into the future. The US could not have a better friend and ally than Canada.