SelectUSA’s First-Ever Canada Conference – Greater Opportunity for the U.S.-Canada Commercial RelationshipDecember 7, 2015
This is a guest blog by Bruce Heyman, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.
Trade and investment are a crucial part of the United States’ global agenda. That’s been one of President Obama’s core messages from the beginning of his time in office, and it’s been the driving force behind many of his major international initiatives. It’s why he, along with Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, hosted the 2015 SelectUSA Investment Summit back in March.
It’s also why I was so pleased to play a role in the inaugural edition of the SelectUSA Canada Conference in Toronto, Ontario on November 17th. No two countries in the world share a larger or more extensive trade relationship than Canada and the United States. Canada is the fourth-leading origin of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the United States, so it was only natural to hold an investment facilitation event that brought U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs) together with Canadian companies of all sizes and backgrounds.
Having led the delegation of more than 80 Canadians representing the private sector, NGOs and government to SelectUSA’s Summit in Washington, I know first-hand how much excitement and interest Canadians have when it comes to cross-border trade and investment with the United States—not to mention how much that enthusiasm and interest is reciprocated by American EDOs! Even so, I was greatly impressed by the size of the response to our first SelectUSA Canada Conference. On the Canadian side, we had more than 50 companies, representing a broad range of industries and markets, while my fellow Americans proved to be equally excited by the prospect of linking up with potential investors, with 24 economic development agencies representing states, cities and regions in attendance.
While it’s always a great time to talk about expanding cross-border trade, the SelectUSA Canada Conference took place at a particularly exciting time in the U.S.-Canada relationship. For one thing, the event was held just a few weeks after the swearing in of a new government in Ottawa, which meant that there was lots of discussion about exploring new avenues for collaboration and cooperation.
From an even more global perspective, however, the SelectUSA Canada Conference took place just weeks after the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, and just a few weeks before the COP21 climate change meetings in Paris. While you may not immediately think of those two milestones as being connected, the reality is we must transition to a global clean energy economy. The TPP—with its strong environmental provisions and its inclusion countries representing approximately 40 percent of the world’s consumers—represents an incredible opportunity to do just that. I think our unprecedented bilateral relationship gives the United States and Canada an opportunity to be leaders in that transition to a clean energy economy, which makes events like the SelectUSA Canada Conference all the more important!
To underscore my belief in the importance of growing and expanding that relationship, I was pleased to use the conference as a platform to announce two exciting new cross-border investment initiatives. First, it was my pleasure to announce the establishment of the Ambassador’s Meritorious Investment Award, which will recognize Canadian companies that invest in the United States. We presented the first of these awards to Champion Petfoods, a Canadian pet food manufacturer that is getting ready to open its first U.S. pet food kitchen in Auburn, Kentucky — an investment they undertook following Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s 2013 trade mission to Canada!
Secondly, during my SelectUSA Canada Conference keynote speech, I was happy to announce a new public-private partnership called the Invest USA Committee. Based in Toronto, the committee will bring together key players to promote and facilitate Canadian investment in the United States. They’ll do so through educational programs, promotional events, business matchmaking, and assistance to Canadian investors.
It’s an exciting time in the U.S.-Canada relationship, full of lots of incredible opportunities for growth, investment, innovation and expansion. SelectUSA Canada represents just one avenue for those opportunities to take shape. It’s my sincere hope that all of us in U.S. Mission Canada can play a major role in that, and it’s why my commercial team across Canada is ready, willing and able to assist anyone looking to create or expand their cross-border trade with us. To find out where to get started, please visit BuyUSA.gov/Canada!