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(Concord, N.H.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today outlined the economic benefits of increased trade between the Granite State and Canada at the 2012 New Hampshire-Canada Trade Council Economic Development Forum. Hosted by the New Hampshire Secretary of State and the New Hampshire-Canadian Trade Council, the forum examined opportunities for improving trade between New Hampshire and eastern Canadian provinces in areas of education, energy, manufacturing and public/private partnerships.

Below are Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

It is a pleasure to be here today.  I would like to thank New Hampshire’s Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, and the New Hampshire Canada Trade Council for convening this important event. 

I would also like to thank Consul General Patrick Binns for being here to offer his views on the relationship between Canada and New Hampshire.  Pat’s strong connection to our state goes back a long way.  I actually remember Pat when I was Governor and he was Premier of Prince Edward Island back in the late 1990s.  Our state hosted him and a number of his colleagues in 1999 for a trade mission of the Atlantic Premiers to New England. 

Pat has proven to be a fantastic public servant during his long career in government and an incredible supporter of strong ties between Canada and the New England states.  We are pleased he is back in New England as the Consul General in Boston, and I look forward to hearing his remarks today.

When we talk about how important our bilateral trade relationship is to both the U.S. and Canada, the numbers really do speak for themselves.  We share the largest and most comprehensive bilateral trade relationship in the world today.  Annual trade between our countries is over $500 billion, or just about $1 million per minute.  If you add foreign direct investment, our bilateral relationship accounts for nearly $1 trillion annually. 

Nearly $2 billion worth of goods and services crosses our common border each and every day.  To give you a sense of how that ranks with other partners around the globe, the two-way trade that crosses the one bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario equals all U.S. exports to Japan.  This vital partnership has meant millions of jobs and cross-border investment on both sides of the border.

The staggering amount of bilateral trade between the U.S. and Canada also applies directly to our state of New Hampshire, where Canada remains a critical partner for the businesses in our state.  We share a 58 mile border with our northern neighbors, and the crossing between Pittsburg and Quebec on Route 3 remains one of the vital trade and investment lifelines that feed both sides of our border. 

As Governor, I saw first-hand the impact trade with Canada had on our communities throughout New Hampshire.  We made the New Hampshire-Canada relationship a priority throughout our Administration.  I was actually the first Governor in the United States to lead a trade mission to Canada following the horrific events of September 11th, 2001.  During the dark, uncertain days following that terrible attack, the federal government effectively shut down our border crossings with Canada.  In New Hampshire, we knew we would need friends like Canada to help us recover, and we could not afford to be scared into closing ourselves off from our northern neighbor.  Our trip was a demonstration of how vital it was to get back to business with our Canadian counterparts.     

I am glad that New Hampshire has continued to foster this important partnership over the last decade.  

Today, Canada remains the single largest market for New Hampshire goods in the world.  In 2011, we sold nearly $650 million worth of goods to Canada.  Nearly 40,000 New Hampshire jobs depend directly on U.S.-Canada trade, including around 4,600 employees hired by 48 Canadian-owned companies in the state.       

In addition to direct trade, visitors between Canada and New Hampshire continue to stimulate economic activity on both sides of the border.  In 2010, the number of overnight visits from Canada reached nearly 500,000 with the average person spending around $250 per day.  If you add single-day trips, Canadians make nearly one million visits to New Hampshire every year.  They make up the largest international visitor market for New Hampshire’s vital tourism industry – still the second largest industry in our state.

These staggering numbers go far in underlining what you all already know – a robust and vibrant relationship between Canada and New Hampshire remain critical to the continued growth of both of our economies.

There are countless examples of the importance of Canada to our businesses in New Hampshire.  One example is Oxy-Gon Industries in Epsom.  Oxy-Gon designs and manufactures high temperature vacuum furnace systems for the R&D community.  Over the years, the company has produced custom furnaces for labs at McGill University, General Electric, National Research Canada, and other important Canadian-based R&D facilities.

The ties between New Hampshire and Canada represent a symbiotic relationship that has worked well for both New Hampshire and Canadian businesses and has done much to enhance the competitiveness of New England and the Eastern Provinces.  However, we cannot allow this critical relationship to coast on auto-pilot.  

Our trade partnership did not happen overnight and it has not come easily.  Businesses and entrepreneurs on both sides have worked hard to develop markets, sell products and attract investment, while forward-thinking policy-makers have also endeavored to foster the kinds of engagement that could benefit both sides. 

As many of you know, since 1973, New Hampshire and the other New England states have had a formal relationship with the five Eastern provinces of Canada.  Long before NAFTA was signed, the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers had been meeting to expand economic and investment ties, foster energy exchanges and discuss transportation, tourism, agriculture, and fisheries.  I always found these meetings to be very valuable, and I am pleased this unique association continues to thrive today and enhances an already deep, mutually beneficial relationship.

I’ve continued to engage the Eastern Provinces during my time in the Senate.  For the last three years, I have had the opportunity to visit Halifax, Nova Scotia to participate in a major security conference every fall.  During my trips there, I have convened discussions – hosted by the Canadian American Business Council – with a number of Canadian businesses and political leaders in the Eastern Provinces to discuss ways to enhance and deepen business and trade ties between our communities. 

As yet another example of the importance of Canadian-NH trade, the CEO and President of Nova Scotia-based High Liner Foods, Henry Demone, participated in our discussion in Halifax.  High Liner is one of North America’s largest frozen seafood producers, and its American-based subsidiary operates a large processing facility in Portsmouth that employs more than 200 people.  It is obvious that the New Hampshire-Canada relationship means a great deal to him and his company.  

At the federal level, the Obama administration has worked closely with Prime Minister Harper’s government to promote growth and trade between our two countries.  Last year, they launched the “Beyond the Border” initiative, as well as the United States-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council. 

“Beyond the Border” is designed to re-envision how we jointly monitor our borders in order to not only enhance security but also to accelerate the free flow of people, goods, and business across the borders.  The RCC is an effort to take a smarter approach to U.S.-Canada trade by eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens on cross-border trade and coordinating and simplifying regulations where feasible.

I think it is also important to mention Canada’s decision this summer to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.  Currently, the TPP – which accounts for 28% of global GDP – includes the U.S., Australia and a number of Southeast Asian nations.  Canada’s invitation and decision to join these negotiations further demonstrate the importance of Canada to the U.S. economy.         

Like any partnership that wishes to stay ahead in a rapidly changing world, the United States and Canada need to continue to work hard to foster and adapt our economic and financial ties.  We did not get here by coasting.  It took active engagement and hard work to create one of the strongest bilateral economic relationships in the world today, and it will require similar levels of work and attention if we are to maintain and grow these ties. 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today and thank you all for coming.  It should be a very valuable and interesting program.