Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for St. Catharines.
There is no doubt that Canada-U.S. trade is an engine of economic growth and job creation. We share one of the world's largest and most comprehensive trading relationships, which supports millions of jobs in each country, and the numbers are impressive.
Two-way trade in goods across the Canada-U.S. border crosses at the rate of $1.9 billion a day, well over $1 million a minute. We are each other's most important partner in economic growth. Canada is the biggest export market for U.S. products, more than China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany combined.
To put it another way, Canada buys four times more from the United States than China buys from it. In fact, Canada is a larger market for U.S. goods than all 27 countries of the European Union combined, which has more than 15 times the population of Canada. One in 25 American jobs depends on free and open trade with Canada.
Sometimes it is difficult for people in the street to understand that trade both ways creates American jobs, both exporting and importing, both goods and services, but it is very true.
Through our embassy in Washington, D.C. and our network of consulates general located throughout the United States, representatives of Canada are emphasizing these facts in meetings with their American counterparts, whether in discussions with government officials, speeches to the business community or in meetings with the media.
Furthermore, ministers of this government have met with administration officials and legislators to regularly discuss our overlapping economies, including issues ranging from the efficient crossing of the border, to labelling regulations, to the crisis facing the North American auto industry and our common response. In fact, the Minister of International Trade is in Washington this very day to meet with the U.S. trade representative and engage on these issues of great economic importance to Canadians.
Since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1988 and then NAFTA in 1992, there is no doubt that our bilateral trade has been a major driver of economic growth on both sides of the border. Over the last two decades, Canada-U.S. trade has tripled. Investment flows have also increased substantially.
Given the scale of this success, it is clear that the path to continued economic growth for our two countries lies in our North American supply chains. Supply chains are highly integrated international networks through which components or services are acquired, transformed and delivered to customers rather than within one country.
Our North American competitive position in the global marketplace relies on the strength and efficiency of our cross border supply chains.
Our trade does not mean that the U.S. drops container loads of finished products on Canadian shores and vice versa. The essence of our supply chains is that we make things together, thereby improving the competitiveness of the final product through lower cost, better technology or better design. Much more of our trade is buying and selling within North American supply chains than it is in finished goods headed for the retail shelves.
As trade has expanded freely across the border, more and more industries, companies and their suppliers are operating on both sides. Assembling the parts of a single finished car for example involves multiple border crossings in various stages of manufacturing.
Today about one-third of Canada-U.S. trade occurs between branches of the same corporations and a similar amount for trade within supply chains. Thousands of Canadian and American companies are taking advantage of opportunities on both sides of the border to improve the value of their products to make them more competitive.
From what I have just described, it follows that a smart, efficient and secure border is essential for our highly integrated industries. Yet the Canada-U.S. border is a challenge for both of us and why the United States cannot ignore it any more than we can.
It is the efficiency of North American supply chains that allows our businesses to compete more effectively with Asia and Europe and spurs innovation in our workforce. Conversely, inefficiencies in the supply chains translate into decreased competitiveness for North American companies. Therefore, a border problem is not just a Canadian problem; it is also a U.S. problem
On average, more than 300,000 people a day travel across the border, and $1.9 billion in goods every day. In the nearly eight years since 9/11, both countries have invested heavily in border security for all the right reasons. Both Canada and the United States need to work to ensure that our shared border is a true gateway to our prosperity, not a cumbersome checkpoint that stifles our competitiveness.
What do I mean by that? We do not need more thickening of the border. Thus our government is committed to ensuring that security protects our supply chains and impacts two-way trade as little as possible. Our competitive edge in the global marketplace depends upon it. As the new administration in Washington moves forward on a new direction in government, we remain confident that there will be good collaboration between our two countries during this critical period.
As members know, the temptation is great around the world to turn inward, close doors to global co-operation and become protectionist. We have been taking every opportunity to remind our trading partners, including the U.S., that this is not the approach to take. As the Great Depression showed us, protectionism feeds upon itself, spawning retaliation after retaliation, and can quickly spiral out of control.
We need to think in the long-term and harness the opportunities inherent in international trade and investment to not only ride through the storm, but to come out on the other side stronger, more competitive and more co-operative than ever before. Canada's message of co-operation is certainly needed these days and it is one we continue to emphasize with the United States.
If we could point to a classic example of a trade relationship that has worked for Canada, it would no doubt be our relationship with the United States. Our economies have grown together. Our communities have thrived together. It is safe to say that in some ways, we pioneered the notion of global value chains and we have created a model of co-operation by working through some very thorny issues such as softwood lumber.
With such close economic ties and such a deeply integrated industrial base, it is clear that our economies will succeed together or fail together during this challenging time. That is why we would be deeply concerned with any proposed U.S. measures that may limit the ability of Canadian exporters to access this key market. A recent example of this would be our response to U.S. stimulus efforts that would limit foreign suppliers to new infrastructure projects. We are monitoring the situation very closely and not standing idle. Our government and Canadian officials are closely engaged with their U.S. counterparts on this issue.
We have also shared Canada's concerns with other nations around the world that trade with the United States. Our embassy in Washington is working closely with U.S. Senate and congressional leaders to ensure that the U.S., like all other nations, lives up to its international trade obligations of open and fair trade.
As MP for the border riding of Sarnia—Lambton, I have met with my American congressional counterparts to discuss the issue of border thickening. Dialogue on this urgent issue exists at every level between the American and Canadian government.
It is clear that American jobs and American communities rely upon Canadian inputs, Canadian know-how and Canadian investment. Canada is a valued and long-standing customer of American goods and services as well. Our economies need one another. It is clear that Canada must be part of American efforts to get their economy up and running again, to help both of our economies move through this crisis.
As a government, we are committed to underscoring this message at every opportunity. Globally, we think Canada is in a good position to deliver this kind of co-operative message. We have always been a trading nation. Whether it is at the WTO where we continue to push for a successful conclusion to the Doha round or through an extremely successful North American Free Trade Agreement, collaboration, co-operation and good will are the hallmarks of our bilateral relationship.
Our two countries have built broad and deep foundations through 350 agreements and treaties that cement our mutual co-operation. This Conservative government will continue to work closely with the United States to ensure that the border is not an obstacle to our continued prosperity but a gateway to further growth.