Madam Chair, I will be using 10 minutes for my speech, followed by five minutes for questions.
As we have said on numerous occasions, the Canada-U.S. economic relationship is balanced and mutually beneficial. Our economic ties to the U.S. are key to middle-class jobs and growth on both sides of the border.
Our partnership is also critical to Americans. Canada is the number one customer for U.S. exports and we are America's biggest market. Thirty-two states count Canada as their largest international export destination, with nine million U.S. jobs directly linked to trade with Canada. We do over $2.4 billion in trade a day, every single day.
We strongly believe that a whole-of-government and non-partisan approach is the best way to have an impact on American decision-makers and opinion leaders. That is what has happened in this Parliament, and we are all delighted. I will now speak about our key priorities.
At their first meeting in Washington, the Prime Minister and President Trump issued a joint statement that gave a clear indication of Canada's priorities in our relationship with the United States. The statement is a road map to upcoming co-operative projects between our two nations and it focuses on five key areas.
First, the growth of our economy, which includes such initiatives as co-operation on regulation. The Treasury Board Secretariat is leading an ongoing dialogue with American officials to move ahead with co-operation on getting rid of regulations that impede the flow of business. Another initiative is the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The Windsor-Detroit border crossing project is halfway through the bidding stage, and a private sector partner is expected to be selected next spring.
The second is promoting energy security and the environment. This focused area includes and identifies pipelines, and air and water quality. For pipelines, Keystone XL is now approved. The economy and the environment have to go hand in hand. There are several other projects like pipelines or electricity transmission lines that are at different stages for review.
When it comes to air and water quality, Environment and Climate Change Canada is working very closely with the U.S. and broad co-operation continues in some specific problem areas.
The third is keeping our border secure, of course. Entry-exit or, more specifically, Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act will allow for full implementation of the entry-exit initiative whereby Canada and the U.S. will exchange information on all travellers crossing the land border. We expect implementation by 2018. There will be a thinning of the border with a thickening of the outer perimeter of security.
There was also discussion of pre-clearance, namely Bill C-23, An Act respecting the preclearance of persons and goods in Canada and the United States. Once the bill is passed, both countries will be in a position to ratify the agreement, which will provide a framework for expansion of pre- clearance to cargo. In other words, it will get stuff moving faster.
The fourth area of focus was working together as allies in the world's hot spots, which includes co-operation on NORAD, which of course is essential to our Arctic sovereignty, as well as dominance over our own air space, our military alliance with the U.S., not only through NORAD but also NATO. The steps for modernization are in the government's defence policy review. More news will be announced on that by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Defence shortly.
There is also the coalition to counter Daesh, wherein Canada is a key member of this 68-member coalition. The minister attended the ministerial meeting in Washington, DC, hosted by Secretary Tillerson on March 22, where the future strategy to defeat Daesh was clearly laid out.
We have also made some specific proposals and taken action to counter the activities, the heinous crimes of Daesh, not the least of which is supporting, through military efforts, but also $804 million in humanitarian aid, to assist the most vulnerable.
The fifth and last area of focus in this thematic scheme is empowering women entrepreneurs and business leaders. We oversaw the creation of the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. The council is committed to removing barriers to women's participation in the business community, and supporting women by promoting the growth of women-owned enterprises.
We are committed to gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, and the promotion and protection of their human rights. We see women as powerful agents of change, an experience I, myself, have seen in the war-torn lands of Afghanistan. These individuals have the right to be full participants, and influencers in peace and security operations. Achieving gender equality requires changing unequal power relations, and challenging social norms and gender stereotypes. We can lead by example in that regard.
The next issue is with regard to the terms of the engagement strategy.
Since January 20, the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories have been undertaking an ambitious pan-Canadian strategy to get the United States involved. This includes not only the Prime Minister's official visit to Washington in February—I had the pleasure of going with him—but also visits, meetings, and other discussions between the ministers, parliamentarians, and provincial and territorial leaders and their American counterparts, as well as political leaders at the national and state level.
The ministers have undertaken an action-centred program that targets 11 key states whose main export destination is Canada and that maintain vital economic links with Canada or have a significant impact on American policy and Canadian interests.
We have already made over 100 visits as part of this effort. Twelve parliamentary committees are planning or preparing to go on visits to the United States in the near future, and I thank them for that. Through these visits, calls, and meetings initiated by Canada's network in the United States, we have obtained the support of over 215 political leaders in the United States.
Top of mind, of course, is NAFTA, something we have already talked about tonight. I know it has been said before, and we are going to say it again. We are ready to come to the negotiating table with our American friends at any time. It has been modified 11 times since its inception. It is natural that trade agreements evolve as the economy evolves. Canada is open to discussing improvements that would benefit all three NAFTA parties.
Should negotiations take place, and we all expect they will, Canada will be, and is, prepared to discuss at the appropriate time specific strategies, but we are not going to expose our cards right now. Quite frankly, we want a good deal, not just any deal.
When it comes to softwood lumber, on April 24, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would impose preliminary countervailing duties on certain softwood lumber products from Canada. We disagree strongly with the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to impose an unfair and punitive duty. The accusations are baseless and unfounded. We continue to believe that it is in both our countries' best interests to have a negotiated agreement as soon as possible with a deal that is fair for both countries.
We have been in constant conversation with our American counterparts. The Prime Minister raises this every time he interacts with President Trump, as does the minister with her counterparts. As a matter of fact, the last time she raised it with her counterparts was yesterday. That is literally hot off the press.
While Canada is committed to negotiating an agreement, once again, we are not going to accept just any deal. We need an agreement that is in the best interests of our industry. We want a win-win.
In conclusion, while we only touched on a couple of the highlights of our engagement on this very broad, complex, and deep relationship, it is clear that the partnership between Canada and the United States has been essential to our shared prosperity. Our trade with the United States is balanced and mutually beneficial. We are its largest customer. We invest more in the U.S. than the U.S. invests in us. We are the Americans' biggest client.
We will also continue to work with all parliamentarians to ensure that we maintain a united front in our engagement with the United States in a non-partisan fashion. The growth of our economy and working well with the United States is not a partisan issue. All members of Parliament are thanked, essentially, for their “all hands on deck” approach.
Canada's relationship with the United States is extensive, highly integrated, and prosperous. Thirty-two states count Canada as their largest international export destination. Nine million U.S. jobs are linked to trade with Canada, and we do over $2.4 billion in trade a day. That is why from the very beginning, our government looked for ways to reach out to the new American administration to advance issues of mutual interest.
It is also important to realize that it has been really a non-partisan approach. I would like to single out, as the minister has done, the interim Leader of the Opposition, the member for Sturgeon River—Parkland, for her fantastic work in Washington. I literally saw her in action now on two different occasions, once at the inauguration and once at another event involving the governors. She was on television. She was able to leverage her Rolodex of very impressive leaders in Washington itself. She was organizing her teams to actually get out there and interact with us. She dispatched a whole bunch of her members of Parliament down to pair off with their Liberal and NDP colleagues. Quite frankly, it was sterling leadership by example.
I would also like to single out the hon. member for Prince Albert, my opposite number, the critic. We have travelled to the United States many times. I find him knowledgeable, experienced, and once again a true Canadian at heart. It has been a pleasure to work alongside him.
I wonder if the minister would please outline her activities and elaborate on our engagement strategy with the United States at all levels and across all sectors.