Canada and the United States - Complete Program
[MUSIC] Good morning. My name is Richard Kiy and I'm the President and CEO of the Institute of the Americas located on the UC San Diego campus in La Jolla, California. Established in 1981, the Institute of the Americans is an independent inter-American focused institution devoted to encouraging the economic and social reform across the Western Hemisphere. Enhancing private sector collaboration and communication to strengthen political and economic relations between Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada. Given the institutions organizational mission, I'm pleased to welcome you today to our virtual forum entitled; Build Back Better Together Canada and the United States being organized in honor of Canada Day, which will be in a few days on July 1st. Before we begin, I want to thank our supporter, the Broward Foundation, and our program partners, the UCLA Canadian Studies Program, the MAPLE Business Council of Southern California, the California Chamber of Commerce and Nasco.
I also want to thank our media partner, the University of California Television, that will be recording and rebroadcasting today's program on their channel. Today we have an impressive lineup of speakers and panelists from both Canada and the United States. To lead off our forum, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Arwen Widmer Bobyk, the Council for political, economic, and cultural affairs at the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles. It's Arwen's job to promote and protect Canada's interests in the Southwest United States.
Arwen's team leads on political, economic, cultural, environmental, energy, and climate, as well as security and defense of human rights related issues. She's also got a portfolio focusing on media engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion for the constitution. She's got a broad range of responsibilities and very active in Southern California.
Arwen has worked in the federal public service of Canada for over 20 years. The last 12 has been focused as a diplomat, working at the Embassy of Canada in Mexico, where she served as the economic affairs counselor. Arwen comes with a great deal of experience and perspective, not just on Canadian foreign policy, but on the North American relationship with the United States, Canada, and Mexico. At this time, I would like to welcome Arwen to our virtual stage. Arwen, take it away. Thank you so much, Richard, for your kind words. Good morning, everyone.
Our mission, including our consulate based in San Diego, are delighted to have partnered with the Institute of the Americas on today's exciting program. As the first Canadian official speaking today, it's my honor to do the land acknowledgment. I'm speaking to you from the traditional lands of the Tongva nation here in Los Angeles. It's a solemn time in Canada with the recent discoveries of the unmarked graves of hundreds of children who died while in the Indian residential school system in Canada.
Now is the time for reflection, reckoning and real reconciliation in Canada, and we are committed to doing so. Our esteemed lineup of Canadian and US speakers this morning, will highlight the real ways the United States and Canada can, in the words of Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden, work to revitalize and expand our historic alliance and steadfast friendship to overcome the daunting challenges of today and realize the full potential of the relationship into the future via the roadmap for renowned US, Canada partnership. We will hear a lot about that today. It is my great honor and pleasure to introduce one of those speakers, my boss, Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles, Zaib Shaikh. Zaib began his mandate as Consul General in December 2018.
He is the Government of Canada's senior representative in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. He came to this posting after an extensive career in media and entertainment industries, having worked as an actor and producer in theater, film, and television. From 2014 until his appointment in 2018, our Consul General was the film commissioner and director of entertainment industries for the City of Toronto. In his two and a half years as head of mission, he has spearheaded numerous working groups and trailblazing initiatives across our North American network on issues ranging from climate change and defense, to mental health awareness and diversity equity inclusion. Without further ado, over to you Zaib. Thanks so much, Arwen.
Really appreciate that introduction and thank you Richard. As Arwen mentioned, I've had the distinct honor of serving as the head of mission as it's called, or the Consul General at the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles and in San Diego for over two years now, although much of those two years, as we all know and have experienced have been an unprecedented time together. That's something that we're going to be talking about today. It's a testament to the strength of our enduring partnership that we've been able to take these exceptional actions to support our citizens in both countries, limit the spread of the virus and ensure the safety and security of our shared border while keeping our economies going throughout the pandemic and of course, as we move into the recovery phase. To elaborate on this, I get the distinct honor to introduce someone amazing as well. It's my pleasure to introduce our Deputy Head of Mission in the United States, Ms. Katherine Baird.
I call her DHoM, and that's Deputy Head of Mission, but she's also the Deputy Ambassador. Katherine was nominated to this posting in June 2020. Prior to her nomination, Ms. Baird has served as Minister for Congressional, Public and Intergovernmental Relations at the Embassy of Canada in Washington DC from 2013 and onward. Ms. Baird joined global affairs Canada in 2011 as
the Senior Executive Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Deputy Head of Mission has served 30 plus years in the public service in a number of capacities, including at the Parliament of Canada, Department of National Defense, Department of Justice, and Privy Council Office. Katherine, I'm very honored. I know we all are honored to have you address the audience today as we weren't able to get you out of the humidity and thunderstorms on the horizon in DC, at least we have you virtually here with us in Los Angeles and San Diego, and we're looking forward to having you here in person when travel is more readily available for us all.
Katherine, thank you. Without further ado, over to you in the virtual stage. [FOREIGN] Thank you, Zaib. It's such a pleasure to be with you today to help kick off this forum. I'd also like to say thank you to Richard Kiy at the Institute of the Americas for inviting me to speak with you today.
My thanks as well to the MAPLE Business Council, the UCLA Canadian Studies Program, the California Chamber of Commerce, and UCTV for their part in organizing this important discussion. I don't want to start by appearing ungrateful, but it does seem a little unfair that in the year I'm part of an event in Southern California, we're all attending virtually, obviously for very good reasons and on that point, just how great is it that there's some light appearing at the end of the COVID tunnel. Despite joining you from across the country here in humid Washington DC, I am well aware of the critical role trade plays in Canada's relationship with the US and Southern California. I want to start by saying a few words about that. I'm not sure how many of you know this, but Canada is one of the top foreign investors and trading partners for Southern California.
The impact of partnerships with Canadian firms to the local economy is substantial, contributing to over 533,000 jobs in the region. In San Diego County, specifically, the Canadian footprint is significant. Well here are some stats. Almost 50,000 jobs
in San Diego County depend on trade and investment with Canada. Close to 5,000 people are employed at 168 Canadian owned businesses across San Diego County. Familiar businesses like Stan tech, City National Bank, Aldo, Collier's international and Bombards Transportation Holdings to name a few. Then there are perhaps less familiar companies that are making a real difference in your community like Fred sense, a Calgary based women and LGBTQ led biotechnology firm developing tools for real time water analysis. Also, there's Phoenix Molecular.
Designs, another women lead Canadian biotech company which hit of major milestone in 2019 when it received FDA clearance to move it's breast cancer fighting drug into a phase 1, 1B clinical trial. Of course, there are all of the companies that export goods and services to Canada. 1.7 billion in goods and 914 million in
services are exported by San Diego County to Canada annually. Those are a lot of numbers to keep straight and don't worry, I will not quiz you following my remarks. But I do think it's important to highlight the strong foundation upon which the trade relationship is built and what we have put in place on which we can build moving forward. Of course, a fundamental part of the Canada-US trade foundation is our newly modernized USMCA or the new NAFTA, which came into force almost exactly a year ago on July 1st, 2020. But before we talk about the future and all of its opportunities and possibilities, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the last 16 months or so and the impact on our bilateral trade relationship. By now it is an understatement to say that we've experienced a period of significant instability, uncertainty, loss, and change in the United States, in Canada, and across the globe.
On a parochial note, it's hard for me to believe it was back in March 2020 that my boss, Kirsten Hillman, was appointed as Canada's Ambassador to the United States. The first woman to hold this role. Not long after, in the same month as the impact of the pandemic was becoming more fully understood, Canada and the United States moved to restrict all non-essential travel along the Canada-US border. It really was an extraordinary time. As a reminder, this is the border that under normal circumstances sees over 400,000 crossings a day. It's a border that supports about two billion USD in goods and services trade between our two countries every day two billion, roughly three-quarters of Canada's exports go to the United States.
The goal of this joint Canada-US decision was to suspend all non-essential border crossings for public health and safety reasons while minimizing the impact on our economies. Therefore, we continue to allow the movement of essential workers and the transport of goods for manufacturers and of course, food and medical supplies. The data shows that the restrictions achieved the goals they set out to achieve.
Following the sharp declines in trade flows at the onset of the pandemic, our efforts in co-managing the border meant that by December 2020, bilateral trade flows were back to 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels. As our two countries continue to focus our efforts on fighting the pandemic and turning our minds to an eventual easing of order measures. Things are looking even better on the trade front.
Through the first quarter of 2021, both US exports and US imports of goods and services from Canada exceeded the levels in the same period of 2020. In fact, US exports of goods to Canada hit 28 billion in March alone, the highest level seen since October 2014. Because we have an almost perfectly reciprocal trading relationship we're happy to report that the exact same thing can be said about US imports from Canada. It's worth noting that throughout these last 15 months, we have had very good cooperation with both the previous and current administrations in making thoughtful and collaborative decisions about our shared border. More recently, the Prime Minister and the President agreed to take a coordinated approach based on science and public health criteria when considering measures to ease Canada-US border restrictions, a commitment that was reiterated recently when they spoke at the G7.
Consistent with that approach, Ambassador Hillman and I and others at our embassy and in Ottawa are in regular contact with our US colleagues about the border. There are active and ongoing high-level of discussions on these issues and we are identifying together the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably. Cooperation and in particular, COVID cooperation has also served as an important component of our early work with the Biden administration. Beginning on inauguration day, the embassy began receiving calls from senior members within the new administration, seeking to establish contact both with Ambassador Hillman and with Canadian ministers and senior government officials.
It marked a strong and substantive start to the relationship by leveraging our positive relationship with President Biden which started during his tenure as Vice-President. We are reinvigorating the Canada-US relationship. This was certainly the focus back in February when President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau met for the first time virtually of course, the president's first bilateral meeting with a foreign counterparts since taking office. As a result of that meeting, the leaders announced an ambitious roadmap for renewed US-Canada partnership, which outlines a number of concrete actions for Canada-US collaboration in the coming years.
I say ambitious because we think of it as quite a remarkable document and a huge achievement. Oftentimes, leaders statements can be high level, be brief, maybe a little vague, but this is a substantive meaty several pages long document, a big bilateral to do list, if you will, encompassing a number of priorities with clear objectives. I think one of the reasons we were able to articulate such as substantive roadmap, is that there is enormous alignment between the Biden administration and the Government of Canada from a policy perspective. For both our countries, not surprisingly, the top priority is ending the COVID-19 pandemic and focusing on economic recovery.
Knowing that the two priorities are inextricably linked. The reality is that economic recovery in Canada and in the United States will be faster, stronger, and more enduring if we move forward together. This is reflected in the roadmaps commitment to strengthen Canada-US supply chain security and reinforce our already interconnected industries. While also looking ahead to new areas for manufacturing, that simultaneously support our climate and our energy objectives. With respect to our energy objectives and in recognition of how integrated our energy needs and infrastructure are.
We will also continue to collaborate on critical minerals, battery development and production, and energy governance. On critical minerals are joint action plan is an opportunity to promote responsible mineral resource development and related value added economic activity while addressing key supply chain vulnerabilities. On climate change, an issue that Californians experience in a very real way every day, Canada and the US are seizing opportunities created by the roadmap to accelerate our climate ambitions and work together internationally. In April of this year, the United States hosted an ambitious high level climate summit at which both Canada and the United States announced new emissions reduction targets.
As part of our commitment under the Paris Agreement, Canada will reduce our emissions by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Canada and the United States are now working together in the lead up to COP 26 in November to encourage other countries to take similarly ambitious steps. At the recent G7 meeting in Cornwall, the prime minister also announced a doubling of Canada's climate finance from 2.65 billion in 2015 to 5.3 billion over five years,
including increased support for adaptation as well as for nature and nature-based solutions. We are also working together bilaterally to make these global commitments a reality. In March, Canada and the United States launched a high level ministerial dialogue on climate ambition to better align policies and regulations between our two countries and address greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts, all while stimulating economic growth, creating jobs, and improving public health. Through this dialogue, we are also strengthening our cooperation on policies and investments to manage land, carbon sinks like forests, more effectively and improve their resilience to climate impacts, including wild fires and floods. The dialogue builds upon our cooperation in other areas. In 2019, Environment and Climate Change Canada signed a memorandum of understanding with California Air Resources Board to strengthen cooperation on greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
Since 1966 when it established the first tailpipe emissions standards in the United States, California has led the way in regulating vehicle emissions. As we continue to improve fuel economy and transition to zero emission vehicles, Canada will work to align federal light duty vehicle regulations with the most stringent performance standards in North America post 2025, whether at the US federal, or state level. In other environmental news, Canada and the United States have committed to conserving 30 percent of lands and water by 2030 and have made policy and financial commitments in that regard. For Canada, this includes continued investments of $3.2 billion to the nature legacy,
which includes efforts to collaborate with indigenous and sub-federal partners. Just this past week, Energy Secretary Granholm and Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O'Regan, renewed a memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation between our two countries, which reaffirms our partnership as we advance our shared priority of a people-centered, clean energy transition that leaves no one behind. Of interest to this audience, I'd note that energy trade between Canada and California is worth over one billion annually and includes renewable energy exports from British Columbia that contribute to California's emissions reductions objectives.
Our bilateral and global commitments in the road map, also include cooperation in the areas of security and defense, including continental defense, cyber-security, cross-border crime, and the arctic. From a security and economic standpoint, Canada and the United States are also looking at ways to align our approaches on China, including how we deal with China's coercive and unfair economic practices, national security challenges, and human rights abuses. President Biden has said he wants to work closely with traditional allies, and he wants the US to re-engage in multilateral organizations, including the World Trade Organization, the UN, the G7 and G20, and NATO.
A very recent example of this commitment to engaging with allies was at the G7 summit, where Canada and the United States joined their G7 counterparts to commit to a shared agenda for global action to build back better. As part of that agenda, the prime minister confirmed Canada's commitment of 100 million doses as part of the overall G7 commitment to international dose sharing of COVID-19 vaccines. As I said at the outset, fighting COVID and focusing on economic recovery efforts are inextricably linked. As I think you can see from all of these commitments, there is a real sense of alignment and opportunity between our two countries. This alignment can also be seen in our shared determination to combat systemic racism and discrimination, and to advance diversity and inclusion in our societies, including from an economic prosperity standpoint. In Canada, June marks national indigenous history month, an important opportunity to learn about, appreciate, and acknowledge the contributions that First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people have made in shaping our country.
This year, national indigenous history month is taking place at a time of great sadness in our country following the discovery of the remains of children near former residential schools. This month is dedicated to the missing children, the families left behind, and the survivors of residential schools. The mistreatment of indigenous children at residential schools is a tragedy, the impacts of which are still felt today. Over decades, thousands of indigenous children were taken from their families and communities.
Prime Minister Trudeau has acknowledged that these findings are part of a larger tragedy and a shameful reminder of the systemic racism, discrimination, and injustice that indigenous peoples have faced and continue to face in Canada. He is asking us as a country to acknowledge this truth, learn from our past, and walk the shared path of reconciliation so we can build a better future. While each of our countries has different histories and difficult truths to face, we also have a unique opportunity to walk the path together as we so often do as neighbors. Learning from each other, sharing best practices and the promotion of diversity and inclusion will help us move in the right direction, will also ensure a more equitable and sustainable economic recovery. Which brings me back to the broader issue of economic recovery within the theme of this webinar.
It's fair to say our countries and our leaders also have a very similar vision for economic recovery. It is one focused on good paying and secure jobs and ensuring that the benefits of economic growth are more accessible and shared more widely. Similar to what is happening here the United States, in Canada, the COVID-19 recession has been the steepest and fastest economic contraction since the Great Depression. It has disproportionately affected low-wage workers, young people, women, and racialized Canadians.
For businesses, it has been a two-speed recession with some finding ways to prosper and grow, but many businesses, especially small businesses, fighting to survive. The pandemic has also caused real hardship for the small business community. In Canada, our most recent budget articulates an approach and a series of concrete actions to ensure a sustainable economic recovery. Both our governments have made it clear that the path to economic recovery is entirely dependent on the trajectory of the virus. Given that, first and foremost, budget 2021 is focused on finishing the fight against COVID-19, Canada's top priority remains protecting Canadians' health and safety. I am happy to report that the vaccine roll-out is well underway across Canada with federal government support in every province and territory, and Canadians enthusiastically rolling up their sleeves to do their part, and yes, that pun was very much intended.
Budget 2021 is also about healing the wounds left by the COVID-19 recession. It's about creating more jobs and prosperity for Canadians in the days and decades to come. It makes historic investments to address the specific wounds of the COVID-19 recession, put people first, create jobs, grow the middle-class, set businesses on a track for long-term growth, and ensure that Canada's future will be healthier, more equitable, greener, and more prosperous. The hallmark of Canada's budget is a transformative investment to build a Canada wide early learning and childcare system; an initiative that is very much part of building back better and a shared road-map commitment. This is a plan to drive economic growth, increase women's participation in the workforce, and offer each child in Canada the best start in life.
Our budget is also a plan for a green recovery that fights climate change. It helps more than 200,000 Canadians make their homes greener, builds a net-zero economy by investing in world leading technologies to make industry cleaner and reduce pollution, helps Canada reach its goal of conserving 25 percent of our lands and oceans by 2025, and creates good middle-class jobs in the green economy along the way. Canada's plan to spur job creation and support small business will create almost 500,000 new training and work opportunities, including 215,000 opportunities for youth. It will support businesses in our most affected sectors such as tourism, and arts and culture, and accelerate investment in digital transformation of small and medium-sized businesses. The government has committed to creating one million jobs by the end of this year.
When it comes to our trade relationship and economic recovery, we will continue to work with the United States to identify and take advantage of emerging opportunities. We also know we have to be realistic and we have to be strategic. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that while we might need to become a bit more self-reliant in some areas, in this interconnected world, nobody can truly go it alone. We need to resist the inclination to look inward at the expense of important trade and security relationships, and certainly Canada is committed to working with our partners and allies on the post COVID recovery. Thanks to the relationships we have built over the past 25 years under NAFTA and now under the USMCA, we can tackle these issues with a bilateral or North American approach.
Leveraging our respective strengths and robust cross border supply chains in support of this recovery. Canada and the United States have obvious strengths as reliable partners. We have similar economic structures, comparable environmental policies, a shared vision for greening government, and greening infrastructure, shared industrial base, and a shared commitment to diversity, equity, and justice. Regarding the President's Building Back Better agenda and with respect to infrastructure which we know is a priority for this administration, we recognize the US interests in supporting American workers and jobs.
On that, we would simply point out that with respect to integrated cross border Canada-US supply chains, imposing domestic content requirements can have the opposite effect. They can negatively affect American workers and jobs, and the timelines, and cost associated with important infrastructure projects. Let's not forget, we don't just sell things to each other, we build things together. Canadian building and construction materials are some of the greenest in the world. Using Canada- US supply chains to build infrastructure means lower emissions associated with both production and transportation. Our countries also have robust labor regimes.
Many of our workers are represented by the same unions and their leaders are keen to find a pragmatic way forward that protects workers and supply chains on both sides of the border. As we move forward, similar to how we've worked together during previous economic downturns in the interest of both our countries, it's critical that we work together again in support of our economic recovery efforts. This will ensure that our economic recoveries deliver on the promises of stimulating our economies and getting all our citizens back to work.
To conclude, it should be fairly clear by now that the Prime Minister and the President share a similar vision when it comes to building back better, one that is sustainable, inclusive, and helps strengthen the middle class. Despite global challenges in the face of uncertainty and instability, Canada's relationship with the United States endures, it is resilient, interdependent and multifaceted. It is precisely because of this interdependence, that decisions on one side of the border often impact those on the other side.
We need to remain vigilant while seizing new opportunities. Whether in relation to economic recovery, supply chain security, fighting climate change for the many other areas identified in the roadmap. There are many new opportunities for Canada and the United States to pursue in the years ahead. Our shared commitment to an economic recovery must include, and be sensitive to the unique impacts on communities that are hurting the most. Opportunities that are more equitably distributed are a core feature of what better will look like as we rebuild. I'll end by noting that, as has been noted, July 1st is Canada Day.
As we contemplate our reconciliation efforts and our relationship with indigenous peoples, as the Prime Minister has said, this Canada Day will be a time of reflection on what we've achieved as a country but also on what more we have to do. As friends, and neighbors, reliable trading partners, and trusted allies, Canada and the United States have worked together over many years and accomplished much. We still have so much to do together and many opportunities to seize. It's a privilege for me to have been given this opportunity to share some of the highlights of this renewed partnership. Thank you very much for having me today and for including Canada as part of this webinar series. Thank you.
Thank you Katherine for that wonderful keynote address that gave us a really good perspective on the robust and multifaceted relationship with the United States and Canada have on not just, economics and trade, but also on the environment, on national security issues, on human rights, on climate change and I was pleased to hear you speak about our work in nature based solutions and the roadmap that President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau agreed upon in February. Thank you so much for your remarks and you gave us a great introduction to our current panel which is going to be focusing on the trade investment relationship between the two countries. I'm filling in today for David Weaver, who was the institutes Chairman of Emeritus. He was going to be the moderator, but he fell ill and asked me to step in. David is a Canadian American and a native of Manitoba so he was very much looking forward to being part of this panel discussions so he will be missed.
Today we have a distinguished group of experts that will speak about the US trade and investment relationship with Canada and we'll talk about it from many different vantage points. At this point, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our panelists. Our first panelist is Ian Saunders, he's the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere and Global Markets at the US Department of Commerce, prior to his current appointment he had served as the assistant commissioner for International Affairs at the US Customs and Border Protection, CBP. He led the coordination and support for all CBP foreign initiatives, programs and activities, as well as development and execution of the agencies international strategies.
He's got a very unique perspective on the bilateral relationship not just from a trade and commerce front but also from the standpoint of Homeland Security. Following Ian, we have Eric Miller, who is the Global Fellow at Woodrow Wilson Center Kennedy Institute. He is also president of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a consultancy firm that works with private and public sector clients in North America, Asia, and Latin America focusing on trade and business matters. He's currently an external advisory committee for international policy to Canada’s Deputy Minister of International Trade.
Eric previously served as the Vice President for North American and Cybersecurity at the Business Council of Canada, and this organization represents CEOs from some of the largest companies in Canada. Before joining the Council in 2013. Mr. Miller was also representing Canada in their Department of Industry, at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, and he holds a master's degree from Carleton University, as well as a diploma from the Bologna Center at Johns Hopkins School for International Studies. After Eric, we will have Collin Robinson, who is the Vice President Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
Collins is a former diplomat, and he is a regular with a global podcast, and shares a lot of his perspectives on his foreign service experience. He also is the first Head of the Advocates Secretariat and also the minister at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, and was formerly the Consulate General of Los Angeles as well as the Consulate in Hong Kong and New York at the UN in their Consulate General. Finally, we have Kirstine Stewart, who was the head of Shaping the Future for Media, Entertainment, and Innovation, and a member of the executive committee of the World Economic Forum. Kristen spent a groundbreaking career working globally at the intersection of media and technology. As VP of North American Media for Twitter in New York, she's led a team across the United States working to develop partnerships in news, entertainment, the government, and sports.
Kristen transitioned to heroish after she founded and built Twitter's fastest growing global ad sales office, which was located in Toronto. Before moving to Twitter, Kristen was the head of Canada's national broadcaster, the CBC, responsible for television, radio, digital. Kristen currently resides in Los Angeles. At this time, I'd like to kick things off with Ian, take it away.
Hello, Richard, and thank you very much for that kind introduction. Certainly, I wish David the best today. Really want to thank the Institute of the Americas for the invitation to speak today about the US, Canada trade and investment relationship.
The Institute has been a welcome partner in advancing North American competitiveness and innovation with the Department of Commerce in previous years. The California Chamber of Commerce and MAPLE Business Council have also done their part to advance the US, Canada, and North American relationship more broadly. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the event today, to talk about the ways the administration and the department are working with Canada to build back better.
I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the other distinguished speakers on the panel who are good friends of the United States and Canada and strong advocates of the bilateral relationship. Before I launch into the substance of our topic for today, I want to briefly provide an overview of the Department of Commerce's role in trade for those participants who may not be familiar. The Department of Commerce plays a critical role in facilitating international trade and promoting exports, both of which are key components of this administration's economic and national security agenda. The International Trade Administration, or ITA, the bureau of which I'm a part, is the portion of commerce charged with creating prosperity by strengthening the international competitiveness of US industry, promoting trade and investment, and ensuring fair trade and compliance with trade laws and agreements.
ITA's global footprint consists of 100 US based export assistance centers. We also have commercial service offices in more than 70 countries around the world and headquarters staff in Washington DC, consisting of country and industry experts. As EBDA's Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, I lead a dynamic team of roughly 200 employees working across 14 countries, including 22 staff in Canada and 25 staff in commerce headquarters here in Washington. ITA accomplishes its mission in three ways. First, we assist US companies in gaining access to markets around the world.
Second, we facilitate discussions with government decision-makers and policy influencers. Thirdly, we help US businesses succeed and trade through customized solutions. Last year alone, ITA assisted more than 31,000 US companies in accessing new opportunities in international markets and overcoming a wide range of trade barriers. In addition to our team in Canada and in headquarters, we have local export assistance centers, as I mentioned before. There are several UC acts across Southern California, including in San Diego, West Los Angeles, downtown Los Angeles, Irvine, and Ontario.
Matt Anderson, who directs the San Diego UC act and his team are exceptional. I encourage those in attendance to connect with our ITA experts about trade and investment opportunities with Canada. The US-Canada relationship is one of enduring strain, built on broad and deep ties between our peoples based on shared values, extensive trade as strategic, global cooperation.
I'd like to offer now a sense of the size and scope of this connection, if I can. Our bilateral trade investment relationship, the world's largest and most comprehensive, supports millions of jobs on both sides of the border. Our highly integrated supply chains are the basis for daily two-way trade in goods and services that value nearly $1.7 billion.
Canada is by far the largest market for US merchandise exports overall, totaling $255 billion in 2020. And it's the top export market for roughly 30 individual US States. In California, Canada has the second largest export market after Mexico, accounting for 10 percent of all exports. The top traded goods between our two countries include transportation equipment, chemicals, oil and gas, machinery, computer and electronic products, and food.
A very diverse range. Canada is the leading supplier of imported energy for the United States, and our electrical grids are closely connected. Cross-border investment between the US and Canada is one of the largest bilateral investment relationships in the world, totaling $898 billion in 2019, and that set a new record. Canada has the second largest source of foreign investment in the United States with an investment stock valued at $580 billion as of 2019. Ahead of many other much larger G7 economies. Every year, there's approximately 20-70 billion dollars in new investments between our two countries.
Canadian companies have made investments in a broad range of sectors across United States, but let me give you a few exciting new examples. Ontario, Canada based Magna International, a global automotive supplier, announced in February that it plans to invest just over $70 million and create 304 jobs at its Magna Electric Vehicle Structures facility in St. Clair, Michigan. Quebec based Lion Electric announced in May that it's selected Joliet, Illinois as a site for the company's first American based electric vehicle production facility.
This new facility will produce more than 10, 000 vehicles per year, and is expected to begin its operations in the fourth quarter of this calendar year. In February, Lion Electric also secured an order for its all electric school buses from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Lion will provide support and training to the school district from its recently opened Experience Center in the region located in Alhambra, California. Having talked a bit about the real-world scale of the relationship, let me turn to some recent policy developments that speak to our forward direction. Canada is a strategic and important partner for the United States.
Our cross border ties will only help us build back better, and speed up economic recovery. The Biden-Harris administration has already demonstrated its commitment to reinvigorate and prioritize our relationship by making candidate the first virtual meeting of the new administration, on February 23rd. In addition, most cabinet members have held bilateral meetings with their Canadian counterparts, including our Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo. As a part of the leader's meeting, President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau launched the US-Canada partnership road-map to address priority areas of mutual concern, including COVID-19, inclusive economic recovery, climate change and clean energy, security and defense, diversity and inclusion, and partnering on global issues. Secretary of Commerce Raimondo has met with two Canadian counterparts, the Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Francois Champagne, and Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng to advance road map priorities such as the following; supporting small and medium-size enterprises, supporting minority and indigenous and women owned businesses.
Leveraging the US, Mexico, Canada Agreement or USMCA, to ensure inclusive growth and recovery from the pandemic. Strengthening North American supply chain security, and collaborating on critical minerals collaboration to target net-zero industrial transformation, batteries for zero-emissions vehicles, and renewable energy storage. Our governments are working together to allocate resources to support women, minority, and indigenous-owned businesses, and small and medium-sized enterprises as these are the backbone of our economy. For instance, we're connecting small business development centers and minority business development centers in the United States with their counterparts in Canada to ensure the sharing of networks and best practices.
We also hosted a webinar with government experts from both sides of the border to educate SMEs on best practices for protecting their intellectual property. The supply chain disruptions we've seen during the pandemic have emphasized the importance of working to ensure resilience supply chains and strategic areas such as critical minerals. Our office coordinates collaboration under the US-Canada critical minerals action plan on industry engagement, working with companies to better understand the bilateral critical minerals landscape from mining to processing downstream applications and recycling.
This mentioned of critical minerals leads me to another point. The administration's commitment to addressing supply chain security more broadly. On February 24th, the President signed an executive order directing a whole of government approach to assessing vulnerabilities in and strengthening the resilience of critical supply chains.
On June 8th, the administration released the findings of the comprehensive 100 days supply chain assessments for four critical products; semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging, large capacity batteries, like those for electric vehicles, critical minerals and materials, and pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients. The administration is taking immediate action to address vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience. The US cannot address its supply chain vulnerabilities alone. Even as the United States makes investment to expand domestic production capacity for some critical products, we must work with allies and partners to secure supplies of critical goods that we will not make insufficient quantities at home.
We must work with America's allies and partners to strengthen our collective supply chain resilience while ensuring high standards for labor and environmental practices are upheld. That could not end my remarks today without also mentioned the importance of the trilateral North American relationship. In just two days, we will celebrate the one-year anniversary of USMCA's entry into force. The USMCA resulted in significant updates to its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement and proving market access for manufacturing and agricultural exports. As well as the inclusion of important new provisions in areas like digital trade, good regulatory practices, and small and medium-sized enterprises support.
It also brought side agreements on labor and environmental protections into the core of the agreement. With meaningful commitments and state-of-the-art cooperation enforcement mechanisms. The USMCA commits us to a robust and inclusive North American economy that serves as a model globally for competitiveness while prioritizing the interest of workers and underserved communities. On May 18th, the first USMCA Free Trade Commission meeting took place.
At that meeting, the parties recognized a trade policy should foster broad-based and equitable growth, spur innovation, protect our shared environment, and have a positive impact on people from all walks of life. To accomplish this, United States, Mexico, and Canada recommitted to fully implementing, enforcing, and fulfilling of the agreement's terms and high standards throughout the life of the USMCA. We in North America need to continue to work together to adopt policies that promote competitiveness, create jobs, encourage investment, and ensure that trade advances, equity and opportunity for all stakeholders. Fully implementing the USMCA is a great step towards this objective and is in the long-term best interest of our citizens. The US Department of Commerce is a willing and committed partner to this success.
It's in the shared interest of the United States and Canada to revitalize and expand our historic alliance and steadfast friendship to overcome the daunting challenges that face us today and realize the full potential of the relationship into the future. Both the USMCA and the US-Canada partnership roadmap are excellent vehicles to ensure progress and I'm pleased with the Department of Commerce's contribution to both. In closing, I want to thank you again for the opportunity to take part in this event and to be part of this panel. I'd like to wish everyone a happy Canada Day and US independence day in the week ahead. Thank you very much. Thank you, Ian. It was an excellent overview of the bilateral trade and commerce relationship from the United States and Canada and the work that the department of commerce is doing.
I appreciate those remarks. At this time, I would like to bring on Colin Robertson, who will speak about the US-Canadian trade and investment relationship from a Canadian perspective. Colin, take it away. Thanks, Richard. Well, build back better is now a cliche. Trudeau used it on climate and then in the pandemic and of course, Biden has used it on climate and the pandemic, and then we saw at the G7, Boris Johnson using it with build back better world as an alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative. The first problem is definitional. What do we mean?
I think the Biden administration wants to rebuild alliances, but the focus is on using executive and legislative authorities to improve the state of the domestic economy and society now has a higher priority today than any post-Cold War administration. But the US is not alone in wanting to build back better and introduce equity, Canada, of course, shares that given the rise of inequality and populism across most of the worlds and democratic nations. National champions and industrial policy are enjoying a renaissance on both sides of the Atlantic. In China, of course, they say business as usual because they've always directed how they want to have their national champions. In the Canada-US context, build back better is part of the Canada-US roadmap as was referenced by Catherine and Alan and Sev in their earlier remarks and that's of course as they put on note to renew the Canada-US partnership.
It's second after COVID of the six baskets of priorities agreed to, as was pointed out by the Prime Minister and the President in February. So 126 days later, where are we? Well, there's lots of opportunity in this remarkably detailed roadmap. It really is impressive, as Catherine Baird pointed out. Based on a Canadian issue, the Biden administration has made it their own.
In the days after the summit, there was a flurry of a ministerial meetings, environment, transport, defense secretary of security, foreign affairs, as Ian pointed out, commerce is part of that to come up with work plans. The key now is for Canadian leadership to move on the opportunity if we are to translate the shared vision into real progress. We really do have an opportunity with the roadmap to make some real gains and competitiveness that will serve the three countries. I see the three countries but essentially it is a Canada-US work plan because if Mexico doesn't want to play and there's no guarantee that Emilio seems somewhat reluctant about this. If you look at the US, Mexico, a blueprint compared to the Canadian, it's pretty thin Grewal compared to what we have with the United States. My sense is we've got to get on with it, when Mexico gets a new government, they can join us.
But if we don't act and move now, we risk losing the advantage as Biden wants to demonstrate to the rest of the alliance and he means it when he says, "America is back and America is a good ally." We really do have this opportunity. That said, of course, Biden is protectionist. His industrial policy is built around, buy America, and jobs in America. But we can perhaps fit under the North American umbrella as the US moves to enhance, to ensure, reassure, and create an industrial policy to secure supply chains of which buy America is central.
Again, some of the stuff that Ian pointed out. We need to ensure that buy America includes Canada for the reasons that Catherine pointed out, the supply chain dynamics actually work. This is one of the long-standing Canadian arguments, but not always accepted on the US side but we really do have to make this case now. For this to work, we need regional and bottom-up pressure from states, provinces, and cities who understand the importance of cross-border trade and investment.
We need to bring business and labor, especially our buildings, trades, and industrial unions into the effort. Some like the steelworkers, the champions of buy America are brothers and sisters to their Canadian counterparts. Joe Biden likes unions, so let's use the advantage that no other country possesses with the shared unions. The thinking community is behind this with much good work done at places like the Wilson Center, the Bush Institute and others including the Council on Foreign Relations. It starts with getting our borders open.
Public opinion gets the economic advantage but they want insurance through vaccines certification, the health equivalent of the security insurance that we get with trusted traveler program. We manage the custom screen for decades and created a security perimeter after 9/11 that works well. Now we'll need to install a health screen using vaccines, certification, testing and tracing with enforcement to keep us healthy and safe.
We want to a reliable ally and the US wants a reliable ally. We will have to spend more on defense, especially in the Arctic where Russia and China are more of a threat and the US would like us to do more as they concentrate on the Inter-Pacific. In return with the guarantee of critical minerals and energy vital to the new US industrial policy, we expect the United States to include us within the Bio-America Perimeter. Our mutual competitiveness will improve and when Mexico is ready to join, the door is open and I think I'll stop there Richard, and let Eric pick it up from there. Yes sir. Good morning. Good afternoon, everyone.
Great pleasure to be with you today. Thanks for having this important discussion. As has been pointed out by a number of panelists, the Canada-US relationship is enormous, multifaceted, incorporating everything from trade, travel, movement of people, national defense, and really over the course of the last 100 years or so, habits of cooperation and have really been developed in deep and very fundamental ways.
I think though as we look at where we sit in 2021, it's important to look back over the last couple of decades to see what happened. It has been by enlarge a fairly challenging period for Canada-US relations. The administration since the year 2000, and their Canadian counterparts, have had to deal with obviously major border measures after 9/11, foreign policy disagreements such as the war in Iraq, challenges of our energy policy and the Keystone XL Pipeline, COVID and things of that nature. You've seen significant strains that have arisen. The Trump era is something which still resonates very significantly in the bilateral relationship, and one of the great challenges that President Biden has is to find a way to rebuild trust with allies such as Canada.
Canadians still well remember the declarations of Canada in steel and aluminum, and many took it as Canadians themselves as a threat to national security. They remember threats to destroy the economy. They looked nervously out at the 2024 presidential election to wonder whether there will be an administration that is as many see a hostile to Canada in that period. But that said, with the Biden administration, you have seen an administration that is overly friendly, committed to building alliances, committed to building partnerships.
Well, that anxiety exists and real damage has been done during the Trump years to the relationship, it's important to look ahead to see what one can do with all of the complexities that there exists. As has been pointed out, you've had the Canada-US roadmap that has emerged, a lot of interesting and very important things in that roadmap. Just to take a couple of areas, so cooperation on cybersecurity, cooperation on NATO, a statement of wanting to revitalize the North American Leaders Summit into trilateral context. Obviously, the two Michaels and further commitments were made also at the Leaders Climate Summit in April. There is a big agenda which countries have committed to working on.
Now importantly, in the Canadian political context, and every country has its own political contexts. But one could call the big three issues are not addressed in any of these frameworks. The first of the big three issues is really energy market access. One of the first acts of President Biden in office was to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. Canada as a country that is arguably really an energy superpower, saw that is something that was a grave and disappointing action.
Because after all, even during the period between 2010 and 2015, when the Obama administration was assessing the Keystone XL Pipeline, the US built the equivalent of 10 Keystone XL pipelines within its own country. That coupled with the issues around Line 5 in Michigan, Line 3 in Minnesota have created some friction because Canada has more energy that it knows what to do with and it needs to be able to export that. The second of the fundamental issues has to do with buy America and buy American. As Colin pointed out, President Biden is instinctively in favor of buy America and buy American policies. A key early act was to issue an executive order which reformed the process of giving out waivers, and he has made clear that he's very skeptical on that process.
Working together with labor unions and others to convince the administration that the US and Canada really do have more in common with each other than otherwise, and that really they should work together on these bilateral procurement issues, is really something that is fundamental and needs to be done. But the third issue also in this relationship is softwood lumber, and that has been a perennial issue. When you look back at the history of the shaping of the border between Maine and New Brunswick and the whole areas of friction.
This thing has been going on literally for centuries. In the modern era, we are in the fifth major round of trade disputes over softwood lumber, and there isn't an evident pathway to a resolution on that. Now, when one looks ahead, there is all of important issue that the US is seeking cooperation from allies on, and that is addressing the rise of China.
There was a recent bill passed by the US Senate, still pending approval by the House, which looked at raising the US's game in terms of competitiveness in technology and other areas vis-a-vis China. Buried within that legislation was a requirement that the US should develop a detailed roadmap for how it will work with Canada and with other allies. But it's specifically called out in detailed Canada, in terms of how did the two countries work together vis-a-vis China? Now, Canada has a very challenging situation with China, the two Michaels are being handled arbitrarily by the Chinese government. This is something which is of grave importance to Canada.
But the ability to take punitive action also has other effects because China's a major buyer of Canadian commodities and things of that nature. Thinking through, how does one shift the relationship with China? How can the two countries optimally work together in their sweet spots and at the same time be very effective is something that's going to be very important. But as Colin points out, if Canada is perhaps in paralleling some export access to China, because China is known to be arbitrary in terms of its desire to close markets for those who do things that it doesn't like, is the US willing to work with Canada, for example, on an exemption from buy American at the same time? There's a whole variety of issues and one cannot assume that one country or the other shares exactly the same interests or challenges in the relationship.
There needs to be a dialogue about what better together looks like for both on this particular front. In addition, and this speaks to the mandate of the Institute of the Americas, you have Canada's cooperation in Latin America. Canada has been a real leader on the whole push for democratization in Venezuela, and has good things to offer. Vice president in Harris' initiative in the Northern Triangle with respect to migration. Seeing that is also a good pathway for cooperation, it's something that is crucially important. Let me end by identifying a number of opportunities.
First opportunity and this has been mentioned as critical minerals. I would go slightly further and more specific to say, if the United States commits to a long-term purchase of Canadian critical minerals, obviously they have to be a rate of return associated with that. Might it not be in Canada's interest to work, to build an open and commission minds in Canada that would be directly associated with offtake agreements to the US government.
That means that Canada wouldn't be left, having paid for a facility to be developed, and not have an end market for it. But I think there's a good amount of synergies in terms of offtake and other things that could be done, whether that goes to the Defense Logistics Agency or others we'll have to see. Another area that we may want to look at in this period of relative trade peace within North America is the sunset clause in USMCA. There is a mechanism that has been put in place, howbeit one that is hard to operationalize but could see a sunset of USMCA over time.
Might it not be worth a discussion about, do we want it to simply eliminate that provision and to commit to making the USMCA framework a permanent ongoing and living framework? The third area of our opportunity and this was alluded to at the leader's climate, some it is mass timber. There are great centers of excellence emerging in Oregon and British Columbia and Toronto and other places of that nature, and one thing we know about Canada is there's a lot of trees. How can one work more readily together on standards, adoption, and exports of mass timber. Certainly, an additional area to focus on is Canada and the US should work together on software integrity issues. After the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, there was a major executive order that was issued by the Biden administration, and part of that process, we'll look at the integrity of supply chains for making software. This is something that Canada will want to be involved with and should want to be involved with.
Both because a lot of the software will end up being used by corporate Canada, and also because they're undoubtedly additional opportunities. Our last piece and I think this goes to the realm of needing to think creatively. I've been reading a little bit lately about the Alaska Native Corporations. These are corporations that were set up 50 years ago out of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Some of these community organizations have grown to be billion dollar plus companies. Exploring how perhaps, projects or groups in the Yukon and other parts of the Canadian North could work more closely with their counterparts in Alaska would be a worthwhile venture.
There is a great burgeoning Aboriginal business community of Native American business community within North America. But looking at using capital that exists in some of these groups in North America, in particularly in Alaska, to fund projects in the Arctic would be something that's crucially important. We have ignored the Arctic for far too long, and so thinking creatively about holders of capital and those that need infrastructure and other projects to be operationalized is something that should definitely be a priority. If those who live in the region can be owners and investors in these projects, That's all to the good.
Great deal of opportunities despite having had some challenges in recent years. But I think the future of the Canada-US relationship is very bright and there's just so much that we can do together. Eric, thank you so much for that perspective. I think you shared some of the interesting challenges and opportunities we have in the bilateral relationship, both in terms of opportunity, but as well as some of the conflicts.
Thank you for that perspective. We now turn to Kirstine Stewart, who will share some of her perspectives from where she sits in Los Angeles, in the center of the creative economy. Kirstine take it away. Thank you Richard and hi. Yes, I'm Kirstine Stewart. I've been spending the last three years working with the World Economic Forum. I'm happy to give a bit of a global perspective on what we've been seeing in terms of this opportunity to build back better.
I think the pandemic has obviously uncovered and magnified in many ways a lot of the disparities that we've been seeing globally, whether that's economic or whether that's social. With the benefits of what the Forum has seen over the past years of the working together both public and private organizations and enterprises to come up with good global solutions that are sustainable through challenging time like this, I think it's more important than ever. This idea of building by better through the pandemic and trying to find the ways that we can actually help communities out of what have been long-term issues.
That again, we're incredibly, as was pointed out off of the top with the conversation. When you see the difference between economic groups, racialized groups, different groups, both geographically, and age groups, they have been impacted quite severely by the pandemic. There is an opportunity here to reassess the systems that have, perhaps for many generations, been problematic in supporting a lot of these different groups. The building back better, I think for the Forum has been an opportunity to look at how can we, through public and private partnership, find a better way out of this incredibly challenging situation. Both economic and social and where those challenges have actually merged.
I specifically, as Richard mentioned off of the top, work with the media sector at the World Economic Forum, that means working with different media platforms, media organizations, groups who have a very global perspective on the impact of content. The distribution of information, access to the microphone. On a global basis, platforms, publishers, content creators all form part of the group that I work with at the World Economic Forum. They come from everywhere, from advertising to social media, traditional media like newspapers, television outlets, as well as content creators and music, and sports, and all forms of entertainment and news as well. It's an interesting group of people who, again, have this opportunity to think together about what are the ways in which we can collectively work to make the world a better place.
Essentially, that is what the focus of the forum has been, and together with our partners, we look at the impact of the pandemic particularly has had on a number of the groups that are the part of the audience or part of the greater economy that take part in the media sector have been affected through this time and ways that we can look through technology or through other means to see that we can improve on these states. It was an interesting time through the pandemic, I think for a lot of us who we