March 7, 2017

“Canada and the United States have an historic partnership which sets a model for other international partnerships in the world,” said William Francis (Bill) Morneau, Canada’s minister of finance. “We share the longest border in the world, as well as a language and culture; we have fought together, standing shoulder-to-shoulder. And we [Canada] exported the world’s best winter sport to the U.S.”

SIPA’s Center on Global Economic Governance hosted Morneau for the February 28 talk on the nations’ economic partnership and the future of trade between Canada and the United States.

Morneau emphasized how vital cross-border trade is for both countries: it adds up to about U.S. $2 billion a day, not including cross-border investment. Thirty-five American states count Canada as their biggest exporter. He cited the strength of the U.S.-Canada relationship as a key factor in the creation of many good jobs in the United States.

“We helped each other succeed by building on what we share in common,” Morneau said. “We both want a better life for the middle class; people who work hard should be able to expect a dignified life for themselves and their families.”

Morneau illustrated just how deeply integrated some supply chains are between the two countries by telling a tale about automobile parts. Canadian scrap iron chips are sent to St. Cloud, Minnesota, where they are cast. They are sent back to Ontario, assembled, and then shipped to Ford in Michigan, where they are made into a transmission. Back in Ontario again, the transmission is put in a vehicle, and the vehicle is finally sent back to a car dealership in the United States.

He called it “a journey that touches the lives of thousands working in good jobs on both sides.”

“People will support trade if they see it creates better jobs and makes their lives more affordable,” Morneau said.

A number of SIPA students from Canada asked Morneau about the economic challenges their homeland faces in the years ahead. The minister noted that challenges such as a skills gap, growing household debt, and economic reliance on the oil industry affect some provinces significantly more than others. Canada is addressing these issues, he said, according to the specific needs of each province, and working on policies to develop the clean energy sector, attract immigrants, and increase the workforce participation of women and indigenous peoples.

Overall, Morneau sees the future of Canada as bright.

“Canada is a good neighbor to have,” he said.

— Kasumi Takahashi MPA ’17

Pictured: Bill Morneau // photo by Barbara Alper