Consul General John Prato Talks Canada-U.S. History and Current Issues

John Prato, Canada’s Consul General in New York, wrote an op-ed for GoErie.com, highlighting the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812–the ensuing 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States.

Prato uses this historical backdrop to press for U.S. approval of Keystone XL, and express Canada’s concern over “efforts to impose shortsighted ‘Buy American’ procurement restrictions on state-level projects”–efforts that are, according to Prato, “mutually damaging to the Canada-U.S. partnership.”

From Prato’s GoErie.com op-ed:

Ironically, the War of 1812 brought America its first energy crisis, when British coal shipments were blockaded. Two centuries on, Canada is the United States’ largest supplier of all forms of energy, including oil, natural gas and electricity. Our two countries have by far the strongest and most secure energy relationship in the world, and as that relationship grows, Canada and the U.S. are moving ever closer to the very real prospect of North American energy independence.

Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, for example, would enhance our two countries’ long history of cooperation by increasing the existing transport of Canadian and American crude to U.S. refineries, displace U.S. imports of more expensive oil from less stable suppliers with weaker environmental protection regimes, and greatly enhance our energy security. Further, over the next two decades, with the development of new pipelines and the delivery of product to market, Canada’s oil sands could support up to 465,000 U.S. jobs by 2035.

Overall, the Canada-U.S. trading relationship sees a staggering $1.9 billion in trade cross the border every single day. More than 8 million jobs in the U.S. depend on trade and investment with Canada, and 38 states count Canada as their top trading partner, including Pennsylvania. In fact, strong bilateral trade between Canada and Pennsylvania — fully 29 percent of all Pennsylvania exports end up in Canada, and roughly 316,000 jobs in the state are supported by Canada-U.S. trade — improves wages, the range of consumer choices and prices on both sides of the border.

Clearly, then, the Canadian and American economies are integrated to our mutual benefit, and it is for this reason that we remain concerned about efforts to impose shortsighted “Buy American” procurement restrictions on state-level projects. (An example of this is a recently proposed amendment to Pennsylvania’s Steel Procurement Act.)

In addition to the risk that “Buy American” policies could lead U.S. trading partners to adopt similar actions, thus negatively impacting American exports, these restrictions are mutually damaging to the Canada-U.S. partnership. Our integrated economies and supply chains — on average, Canadian exports of manufactured products to the U.S. contain 25 percent American content — can little afford the disruption.

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