Building stronger ties between Canada and the U.S. is in the DNA of the Business Council.

In the early 1980s, our CEO-led Task Force on Industrial Development and International Trade spent 18 months studying the bilateral relationship and ultimately recommended that we aggressively pursue “trade enhancement.” Their report helped lay the road to a free trade agreement that went into force in 1989 and expanded to include Mexico in 1994.

When we started renegotiating the deal and some questioned the merits of North American free trade, Canadian business leaders stepped up again. From manufacturing to energy and agriculture, CEOs representing every major sector brought our case to Washington and state legislatures across the country. In 2017, the Business Council supported these advocacy efforts with a mapping tool that provided a view at the national, state, and congressional district-level of Canadian investments and business activity.

Thanks to close collaboration between governments, industry and labour, we succeeded in reaching a quality framework. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement was signed in November 2018 and entered into force on July 1, 2020. In addition to modernizing measures, USMCA provides the foundation for a more competitive North America for many years to come. Within today’s context of war in Europe, increased global volatility and disrupted supply chains, it is also an asset in ensuring our continent’s economic security and resiliency.

But if we learned anything from the past experience, it’s that we can’t sit back and wait for a crisis. We need to communicate proactively and positively about the benefits of North American trade and investment. To this end, data points are useful, such as the fact that Canada is the No. 1 customer for 32 U.S. states. It is also important is to highlight the positive impact Canadian companies are making in the U.S. We need to tell stories of how they invest in job training programs, provide economic opportunities for underrepresented populations, employ thousands, and the list goes on.

Next week with our President and CEO Goldy Hyder set to deliver the keynote at the 46th Canada-U.S. Law Institute Annual Conference in Cleveland, we’re pleased to officially launch our new trade map with a spotlight on Ohio — the Buckeye State. In addition to unique data provided by the Trade Partnership Group, this interactive map tells the story at a state-level of how the partnership with Canada supports well-paying American jobs and benefits communities across the country.