Sharing the longest international border in the world, Canada and the United States enjoy a truly unique relationship with similar core values, common geo-political interests, and deeply intertwined economic and cultural ties. Among Canada’s nearly 38 million people, close to 90% live within 150 miles of the U.S. border.
Together Canada and the United States have the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world with supply chains that are inextricably linked and two-way trade in goods and service totaling over $718 billion in 2019. Investment by Canadian companies in the United States is also substantial with US $495.7 billion invested in 2019. That year, U.S. companies invested $402.3 billion in Canada. This investment has contributed to employment and job growth that benefits the economies of both countries, with 1.47 million Canadians employed by U.S. owned firms and 752,000 American workers employed by Canadian companies operating in the United States.
Canada is of strategic importance to the energy security of the United States. In 2019, Canada accounted for 91% of U.S. energy imports, principally crude oil. Also, according to the US Energy Information Administration, 98% of all U.S. natural gas imports came from Canada.
Business travel and tourism is also significant between both countries. In 2019, the United States was the top destination for Canadian visitors with 20.72 million visitors. Of these Canadians, nearly one million are annual “snowbird” visitors fleeing the Canada’s colder climate for America’s south and southwest. Similarly, Canada ranked #2 as a top foreign destination for American tourists after Mexico, with 15 million travelers that year, accounting for two-thirds of all Canadian foreign visitors. The vast majority of Americans arrive to Canada by car.
Canada and the United States also have shared environmental interests leading to cooperation on a wide range of transboundary issues from water resource management, air quality, protection of migratory bird and marine mammal species, fisheries management and emergency planning and response in response to natural disasters along our common border.
In spite of our shared interdependencies, the COVID-19 pandemic has tested the Canadian-United States bilateral relationship in new ways leading to a reduction in two-way trade and investment as well as non-essential business and leisure travel over the past year. As a result, regional economies in both Canada and the United States have both suffered. Lack of early cross-border collaboration in vaccination development and distribution is now hampering economic recovery for many communities on both sides of our common border.
As we look toward the future, Canada and the United States have both learned important lessons about our shared inter-dependencies, common destiny and the need for expanded binational collaboration in the future.
This forum is an opportunity to learn from our shared COVID-19 experience to build back better together as we grapple with the emerging regional and global challenges of the 21st century including future public health crises, regional security threats, and climate change, as well as our shared interests on the global stage through international bodies such as the United Nations, NATO, WTO, G7, G20, APEC, the Artic Council and the OAS.
The Institute of the Americas’ Canada Day forum examines the binational Canada-United States relationship to explore new possibilities in the post-pandemic era.