December 5, 2012

Editorial: Nurture trade with Canada


— As fears grow of a growing disadvantageous trade imbalance for the United States with economic behemoth China, we must always treasure our certain, unshakable ties with Canada.

Last week, Dr. Michael Hawes, a Canadian official who is an expert on the multi-faceted relationship between his country and the United States, spoke in Plattsburgh about the importance of increasing understanding in both directions.

The links between the two nations are so strong, so vital to each and so proximate that it behooves each country to get to know the other as well as it can. We in the North Country couldn’t agree more.

This region is especially reliant on Canada for its own prosperity. The North Country Chamber of Commerce estimates Clinton County’s dependence on Canadian investments, payrolls, land holdings and other factors at well over $1 billion a year.

Two of our most vibrant private industries — Bombardier and Nova Bus — are headquartered in Canada and have established a presence in Plattsburgh to capitalize on the lucrative United States market for their products. Geography is indeed a strong economic incentive, which we all understand and respect.

With that in mind, our chamber has certified as one of its top priorities to know everything it can about the Province of Quebec, City of Montreal and Canada in general to take advantage of any opening that knowledge presents. It was that kind of familiarity and opportunism that helped bring those two significant industrial employers to Plattsburgh.

Hawes’s speech practically coincides with latest warnings that our trade balance with China is drastically out of balance. We import far more from that powerhouse than we deliver there.

In fact, figures available on the U.S. Department of Commerce website indicate that, in 1985, the United State exported almost exactly the same value in goods to China as it imported: more than $3.8 billion. Last year, we exported $103 billion worth of goods but imported $399 billion.

Numbers on Canadian trade are a good deal more comforting: In 1985, we exported $47 billion to Canada and imported $69 billion; last year, the respective numbers were $251 billion and $315 billion.

And, remember, with Canada there are no suspicions of “cheating,” such as by artificially manipulating its currency to take advantage of its trading partners. We are cordial neighbors with a symbiotic relationship. We will always be close emotionally as well as geographically.

We agree with Dr. Hawes: This relationship is the best and most reliable either one has. It must be nurtured and cultivated.

We may be dealing with China with a wary eye, but Canada will always be a valuable partner and a best friend and neighbor.