Posted by on Feb 10, 2017

On the eve of an official visit to Canada almost twenty years ago Canada in one of his weekly radio addresses President Ronald Reagan spoke to the American people about and his broad vision for the future. He began by quoting from President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 speech to a joint session of Parliament in Ottawa;

Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.

President Kennedy’s words occurred to me when I reflected on the recent American Conference Institute Forum on U.S. Export and Re-Export Compliance in Toronto where Jean-Marc Clément and I were among the presenters. My panel featured two senior representatives of Canada’s aerospace industry whose experience and expertise allowed them to address the specifics of Canada’s Controlled Goods Program (CGP) and the Enhanced Security Strategy (ESS) with great facility. That freed me up to make a few comments on the “big picture” and so I reminded the conference participants – Canadians and Americans engaged in the aerospace, defence, and high-tech sectors – that their work represented a vital element in the $ 2.4 billion a day bilateral trade relationship between our two countries. I was thinking of President Kennedy’s words in the context of both these key sectors and the Canada-U.S. partnership –  one that is built on much more than economic self-interest.

Geography, history and necessity have created a unique and enduing alliance. At this conference we addressed one important product f that alliance. The “Canadian Exemption” allows U.S. suppliers to export certain export controlled goods to Canadian recipients registered in the CGP. At last week’s conference, I referred to the hard work of business people on both sides of the border that makes these special bilateral measures work and the free trade- driven approach that Professor Michael Hart refers to as “embedded in the industrial structure of both countries.” I also pointed to the hard work of government officials in building the regulatory bridge that accounted the need to maintain and grow bilateral trade and economic integration while addressing national sovereignty and, in the case of the “Canadian Exemption,” the way each nation honours human rights obligations.

Across the  business sectors there is concern that we look to be headed for a period of turbulence. As I suggested last week in Toronto, in the facing of such turbulence it is important to keep working together and keeping our collective “heads down” and keep moving forward on the task of building bi-lateral business. In this spirt, our firm is proud to maintain its role as participant in the U.S. Department of Commerce Business Service Provider (BSP) program which is aimed at helping U.S. firms with Canada- related trade and investment transactions.

As far as the “big picture” is concerned I was reminded that President Regan’s radio was made on the eve of his trip to Ottawa. He stressed our common commitment to peace and security and pointed to a the many elements of our cooperative relationship that “stand as examples to the rest of the world.” The President went on to say;

… when it comes to economics and trade, Canada and the United States speak as partners … and we’re working to make it even better. Our goal is a free trade agreement … Spurring U.S.-Canadian trade and investment will improve our economies and strengthen our competitive ability in world markets. Although much hard bargaining lies ahead, we are optimistic that a comprehensive plan, mutually beneficial and advantageous to both sides, can be hammered out this year.

During his visit to Ottawa, President Reagan also addressed Parliament and pointed to an even broader vision that started with the Canada- U.S. model :

We can look forward to the day when the free flow of trade, from the southern reaches of Tierra del Fuego to the northern outposts of the Arctic Circle, unites the people of the Western Hemisphere in a bond of mutually beneficial exchange, when all borders become what the U.S.-Canadian border so long has been: a meeting place, rather than a dividing line.