U.S.-Canada Technical Study Tour
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August 17-18, 2017
SLC Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Technical Tour

U.S.-Canada Border Operations

A delegation of legislators from the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) participated in a technical study tour of the Canada-U.S. border, August 17-18, 2017. Sponsored by SLC, in partnership with the Midwestern Legislative Conference and Consulates General of Canada in Detroit and Atlanta, the technical study tour was designed to inform legislators of the particular importance of the Windsor-Detroit crossing on Canada-U.S. trading and relations. Participants from the South included Senator Thomas Alexander, South Carolina; Senator Kevin Blackwell, Mississippi; Representative Jeanie Lauer, Missouri, chair of SLC's Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee; Representative Brian Strickland, Georgia; Senator Cam Ward, Alabama; and Senator Mike Wilson, Kentucky.

During the two-day visit, participants received briefings from the Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to learn about cross-border security and ongoing initiatives between the two nations to ensure the Windsor-Detroit crossing, one of the busiest in North America, remains safe and efficiently operated. Participants learned about the history and organization of the Canada-U.S. Shiprider program – a unique partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Mounted Police that facilitates joint protection of shared waterways – and had an opportunity to ride along the Detroit River on a Shiprider vessel.

The Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority briefed participants on the ongoing planning and preliminary construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge which, once completed, will significantly expand and facilitate Canada-U.S. trading. As proposed, the bridge will provide additional trading capacity, improve processing of goods and services crossing the border, and create two new ports of entry that will be among the largest in North America. The bridge is being designed, built, financed, operated and maintained using a public-private partnership (P3) model, a cooperative venture between a public sector entity and a private sector partner to ensure the project's long-term sustainability. The bridge is expected to be completed in 2022.

Participants also attended an event hosted by the U.S.-Canada Business Association to hear from key border stakeholders heavily involved in Canada-U.S. trading and relations. Presentations during the event focused on regulatory, labor and security concerns that directly impact cross-border goods and services between the two nations.

The relationship between Canada and the United States is one of the largest and most important in the world. According to the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, more than $840 billion in goods and services is traded between the two nations each year, 25 percent of which crosses the Windsor-Detroit crossing. Canada-U.S. trading and investments support approximately nine million U.S. jobs, including more than 2.9 million jobs in the 15 Southern states. Canada is the most important export destination for 12 of the 15 Southern states; for the remaining three states, it is among the top three destinations. In the Southern region, trading and investments between Canada and the United States generate approximately $89.5 billion each year.