February 28 - March 1, 2013
SLC Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Delegation
Trade Relations with Canada
A delegation of state legislative leaders from four Southern states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi) recently participated in a Border Study Tour of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The Border Study Tour, which was organized and sponsored by the government of Canada (through the Consulate General of Canada’s office in Atlanta, Georgia) and the Atlanta-based Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG), the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), was designed to educate state legislators about the U.S.-Canada economic partnership and the significant economic benefits that proposed border initiatives will have for the SLC states. The delegation of SLC state legislative leaders included Representative Barry Mask, Alabama; Representative John Merrill, Alabama; Representative Ron Stephens, Georgia; Senator Ernie Harris, Kentucky; Senator Christian McDaniel, Kentucky; and Representative Deborah Dixon, Mississippi. Not only is the United States – Canada trade relationship the largest and most integrated trading relationship in the world, Canada is the top export destination for 35 states, including 11 of the 15 SLC member states. Importantly, Canada is the top export destination for Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Mississippi, all states represented on the Border Study Tour. In 2012, SLC state exports to Canada amounted to more than $83 billion, a massive amount and an expansion of nearly 10 percent over the previous year.
The Border Study Tour began at the 25th Annual U. S. – Canada Automotive Dinner in Dearborn, Michigan. The delegation heard from Mr. Joe Hinrichs, executive vice president and president of the Americas, Ford Motor Company. Mr. Hinrichs detailed the turnaround of the American auto industry since the Great Recession, highlighting the tremendous growth potential of the industry at home and abroad.
The delegation traveled to Windsor, Ontario, via the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel for a briefing by the Canada Border Services Agency on U. S. – Canada security cooperation and Canadian Immigration procedures. This crossing is the busiest border crossing in North America. While in Windsor, the delegation toured NARMCO, a high quality auto parts manufacturing supplier to the North American auto industry. NARMCO also has a production facility in Gadsden, Alabama, supplying auto parts to the Mercedes, Kia and Hyundai auto assembly plants in the SLC states. NARMCO officials briefed the delegation on border/trade issues, including the importance of expanding the border crossing capacity to better integrate North American supply chains. Briefings then focused on the importance of the expansion of the proposed new International Trade Crossing that will facilitate and enhance more efficient transportation across this vital land trade corridor. On the U. S. side, briefings from the U. S. Customs and Border Protection agency followed, detailing the operations at the Ambassador Bridge crossing trade corridor.
Meetings with Mr. Roy Norton, Consul General of Canada; Michigan State Representative Rashida Tlaib; and Mr. Fran Erwin, Magna International, the largest and most diversified automotive supplier in the world with several large operations in SLC states, concluded the study tour.