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MLC Midwest-Canada Relations Committee »


Midwest-Canada Relations


Issue Briefs

"Governments trying to address border inefficiencies that raise business costs, consumer prices" »
"Power of two: Canada, U.S. rely on one another in interconnected energy relationship" »
"More than just neighbors: Trade between two countries is powerful economic engine" »


Work on a second Detroit-Windsor bridge has begun, with opening slated for 2024

by Ilene Grossman ~ April 2019 ~ Stateline Midwest »
After years of court cases, requests for proposals and bidding, work is underway for a new bridge at the busiest commercial crossing along the U.S.-Canada border. Approximately 7,000 trucks — carrying goods worth millions of dollars — already pass the border most days at Detroit and Windsor, Ont. All of these crossings are done now via the privately owned, 90-year-old Ambassador Bridge. But with the scheduled opening of the Gordie Howe International Bridge in late 2024, a second option will be available for U.S. and Canadian firms. More »


Industry groups: End ‘tit-for-tat’ tariffs and return to ‘zero-tariff North American trade’

by Ilene Grossman ~ March 2019 ~ Stateline Midwest »
From the pork products that come from Kansas to the soaps made in Ohio, the specter of retaliatory tariffs looms large among the Midwest’s economic sectors that rely on trade with Canada and Mexico. Many of the affected industry groups continued in early 2019 to try to get their voices heard among U.S. trade leaders. One of their latest outreach efforts: A letter signed by a diverse group of more than 40 organizations — including the National Corn Growers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Pork Producers Council and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers — urging a return to “zero-tariff North American trade.” More »



United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will deliver modest market gains for region’s farmers

by Carolyn Orr ~ December 2018 ~ Stateline Midwest »
During the first 23 years of the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. agricultural exports to the country’s northern and southern neighbors nearly tripled, reaching $39.2 billion by 2017. Not only did the overall numbers increase over this time, notes an October study commissioned by the Farm Foundation, but the Canadian and Mexican markets became bigger shares of U.S. agriculture business — nearly 30 percent of exports in 2017 vs. only 14 percent in 1995. And while such exponential growth is not expected under NAFTA’s replacement — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA — the deal appears to be a good one for the Midwest’s farmers, says Wally Tyner, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University. More »



Trade deal includes changes that aim to help region’s auto sector

by Ilene Grossman ~ October 2018 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Following more than a year of negotiations, and many days when it seemed as though talks would fail, Canada, Mexico and the United States reached agreement on a trilateral trade pact on Sept. 30. The deal has a new name — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA — and some new provisions, but also is notable for what it keeps in place. More »



Economic experts: In trade wars, the closer the relationship, the bigger the consequences

by Ilene Grossman ~ August 2018 ~ Stateline Midwest »
When countries enter a trade war, its effects depend in part on how close the nations are, in terms of geography and their existing economic relationship, Dan Ciuriak, a former Canadian government economist who now runs a consulting firm, told a committee of state and provincial legislators in July. Few, if any, two nations in the world are more closely knit than Canada and the United States — a fact that would seem to point to major economic consequences if the two countries’ use of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs continues to escalate. More »


Consumers need voice in trade deals — and legislators can help, former Canadian ambassador to U.S. says

by Tim Anderson ~ August 2018 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Though not formally part of the negotiations that could either preserve open trade among the three nations of North America or lead to a new era of protectionism, state and provincial lawmakers still could play an important role in the outcome, Gary Doer said in July at the Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting. His advice: Speak up on behalf of consumers, a group often left out of trade discussions because of the outsized influence of specific industry groups. “[They] don’t have the same voice as stakeholders, which are well organized,” said, Doer, the former premier of Manitoba and former Canadian ambassador to the United States. More »

With binational tensions unusually high, trends in key Midwest sectors are reminder of value of U.S.-Canada partnerships

by Ilene Grossman ~ June/July 2018 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Recent headlines have pointed to some of the strains (a mix of new tensions and a flare-up of longstanding conflicts) in the U.S.-Canada relationship. There have been proposed U.S. tariffs on steel, harsh words exchanged on Canadian dairy policy, and threats by President Donald Trump to end the North American Free Trade Agreement. More »


‘Export-intense’ communities in Midwest have much at stake with talk of more tariffs

by Ilene Grossman ~ April 2018 ~ Stateline Midwest »
When President Trump announced that he intended to levy a 25 percent tariff on imported steel, and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, U.S. trade partners were surprised — and angry. More »



Obstacles to new NAFTA deal include process for resolving disputes, ‘rules of origin’ for autos

by Ilene Grossman ~ March 2018 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Negotiators from Canada, Mexico and the United States have begun their seventh round of discussions for a new, or modernized, North American Free Trade Agreement. And while the dissolution of NAFTA seemed very likely several months ago, negotiations are still alive. More »


Farm groups warn that end of NAFTA would lead to big losses in agricultural sector

by Ilene Grossman ~ December 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
What’s at stake for the Midwest’s food and agriculture sectors when it comes to the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement? More »


North Dakota gets legal win in cross-border water dispute

by Ilene Grossman ~ October 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
A cross-border legal dispute in the Midwest over water came closer to reaching a conclusion this summer when a U.S. District Court lifted injunctions that had prevented North Dakota from completing its $200 million Northwest Area Water Supply projectt. A lawsuit to stop the project was filed by the province of Manitoba in 2002; seven years later, the state of Missouri joined the suit against North Dakota. Those two jurisdictions filed an appeal in October of the District Court's ruling. More »


Trade experts talk to Midwest's legislators about long road ahead before any new deal on NAFTA

by Ilene Grossman ~ August 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
U.S.–Canada relations, and especially a key agreement that binds both countries together, was the subject of a session sponsored in July by the Midwestern Legislative Conference’s Midwest-Canada Relations Committee at the MLC Annual Meeting. With the help of three experts on trade and U.S.-Canada relations, the region’s state and provincial lawmakers explored the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade pact in place for more than 20 years that has eliminated tariffs and increased the volume of trade among Canada, Mexico and the United States. More »



NAFTA and the Midwest: Any renegotiation to free-trade deal would focus on issues critical to region's workers

by Ilene Grossman ~ June/July 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
When the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994, it created the largest free trade area in the world at that time. By increasing trade and investment, reducing tariffs and addressing non-tariff barriers, the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States hoped to grow their countries’ economies and raise living standards across the continent. “NAFTA worked, fundamentally shaping North American economic relations, driving integration between Canada and the United States’ developed economies and Mexico’s developing economy,” says Colin Robertson, vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former Canadian diplomat. But from the start, the three-nation agreement has failed to fully recognize how changes in North American trade would negatively affect certain workers and industries, says Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute. More »


Proposed border adjustment tax raises questions about future of cross-border supply-chain

by Ilene Grossman ~ April 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
As some leading lawmakers in Washington, D.C., explore potential changes to the federal tax code, one idea in particular — the creation of a border adjustment tax — is likely to get more and more attention from many Midwest-based firms. More »


Trump-Trudeau summit promises more cooperation on trade, border efficiency

by Ilene Grossman ~ March 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Within a month of President Donald Trump’s taking office, he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met for a White House visit in which they jointly agreed to strengthen cooperation on a range of issues, from regulatory reform and cooperation, to border efficiency and security. More »


Michigan looks to Ontario as provider in plan to boost Upper Peninsula’s electricity supply

by Ilene Grossman ~ January 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Michigan lawmakers are looking for ways to improve the availability, reliability and affordability of electricity in the state’s Upper Peninsula, and one potential solution is to bring in more power from neighboring Ontario.
In a letter this fall, the province backed Michigan’s request for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator to study the idea of extending electric-generating connections across the U.S.-Canada border. More »


Work on new bridge at vital Detroit-Windsor trade corridor could begin as soon as 2018

by Ilene Grossman ~ December 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Design and construction of a new international bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., could begin in just over a year. Every year, approximately 2.5 million trucks travel through the corridor (in addition to passenger vehicles); they currently use the more-than-80-year-old Ambassador Bridge. It remains unclear when the new bridge will open; initial plans had targeted the year 2020. More »


‘Buy America’-type rules at odds with vitality of cross-border supply chains

by Ilene Grossman ~ October 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Goods officially counted as “Canadian made” often include components made in the United States, and vice versa. In 2014, U.S. content accounted for nearly $70 billion of the value of Canadian manufacturing output (8.5 percent of the total value), according to a report commissioned and released this year by the Embassy of Canada; likewise, Canadian content in U.S. manufacturing totaled roughly $44 billion (2.5 percent of the value of U.S. exports). More »



U.S., Canada look to expand preclearance program from airports to other travel modes

by Ilene Grossman ~ August 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Fourteen years after a binational agreement between Canada and the United States led to the use of preclearance facilities at select airports, a legislative push is on to expand the program to other modes of travel between the two countries. More »


Small-business barriers to exporting inspire ‘hackathon’ to improve border procedures

by Ilene Grossman ~ April 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
For many small businesses, trying to export goods across the U.S.-Canada border for the first time can be both time-consuming and discouraging. “Its first experience may be its last,” Adam Schlosser says about a business and its initial experience with the “paperwork and difficulties at the border.” But could there be an “app”
to help fix that? More »



Citing benefits of continental market, U.S., Canada, Mexico pursue closer ties on energy

by Ilene Grossman ~ March 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Canada and the United States have long been each other’s most important energy partners, with annual trade between the two countries in this economic sector at nearly $100 billion. Cross-border pipelines bring natural gas and oil south to major U.S. markets, and two Midwestern states, Minnesota and North Dakota, imported 12 percent of their electricity from Canada in 2014. “North America is an integrated market,” notes Dan D’Autremont, speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. But leaders at the federal, state and provincial levels are taking steps now to deepen the two countries’ relationship. More »


Facing costly tariffs, U.S. puts end to trade dispute by repealing country-of-origin labeling rule

by Ilene Grossman ~ January 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Within days after a World Trade Organization decision in December authorizing substantial retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico, the long-simmering trade dispute over country-of-origin labeling ended. More »


Trusted-traveler program is helping cross-border travelers save time and money

by Ilene Grossman ~ October 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The NEXUS trusted-traveler initiative is helping people travel more seamlessly between the United States and Canada, but policy experts say program enrollment has been hampered by an inconvenient, unclear application process. More »


New binational standards aim to improve safety of oil shipments by rail

by Ilene Grossman ~ June 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Two years ago, an explosive fire caused by a rail tanker car carrying crude oil took 47 lives and destroyed much of the downtown Québec city of Lac Megantic. A number of nonfatal fires involving oil-carrying trains have followed, most recently this year in Illinois and North Dakota. These incidents have raised safety concerns on both sides of the border, as well as this question: What can governments do to prevent the accidents from occurring? This spring, a mix of new federal and state standards were unveiled that set new rules for tanker cars and what is being loaded on them. More »


Border bottlenecks expected to ease after U.S., Canada agree to allow traveler prescreening

by Ilene Grossman ~ April 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The United States and Canada signed a preclearance agreement in March that will allow people traveling from one country to the other to be prescreened before they cross the border. When fully implemented, this Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport will allow U.S. agents to be stationed in Canada (and Canadian agents in the United States) and to carry out immigration, customs and agriculture inspections of people entering the U.S. from Canada by any mode of transportation. A preclearance program for airline passengers is already in place at eight of the largest Canadian airports; it will be expanded under the new accord. More »


Customs-plaza pact removes last hurdle for new Detroit-Windsor bridge

by Ilene Grossman ~ March 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The busiest commercial border crossing in North America may finally be on its way to expansion. On February 18, the U.S. and Canadian governments and the state of Michigan announced an agreement to build and operate a new U.S. customs plaza, one of the last major hurdles to the construction of a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. More »


U.S., Canada look to ease flow of skilled workers across border

by Ilene Grossman ~ February 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Moving workers across the United States’ northern border can be a challenge, one that interferes with a person’s ability to obtain a temporary job and can impact business operations as well. But both the United States and Canada are taking steps to fix this problem, with the dual goals of easing skills shortages in certain economic sectors and giving unemployed workers more options. More »


Despite trade rise under NAFTA, cross-border regulatory hurdles still hurting business, report says

by Ilene Grossman ~ January 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
In the 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect, trade between the United States and Canada has tripled, but those gains have occurred despite ongoing — and often unnecessary — hurdles to cross-border business, according to a recent study by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. “The report is striking because it acknowledges that the NAFTA objective of a single market for goods and services hasn’t been achieved,” notes Christopher Sands, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. More »


World’s first commercial-scale carbon-capture coal plant opens in Saskatchewan

by Ilene Grossman ~ November 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »
In early October, a facility in the province of Saskatchewan became the first commercial-scale coal-fired plant with carbon capture and storage capability in the world. The Boundary Dam Power Station is run by SaskPower, a crown corporation — meaning it is owned by the provincial government but operates like a private company. The plant uses clean coal technology to prevent most of its carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere. More »


Legislators voice concerns about Ontario proposal to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron

by Lisa Janairo ~ November 2013 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Ontario Power Generation is planning to build a deep geologic repository less than a mile from Lake Huron in order to store its nuclear waste. The repository, if licensed, could open by 2018. It would be the first permanent disposal facility for radioactive waste to operate in the Great Lakes basin. More »


How much Canadian oil and gas are imported into the Midwest?

by Ilene Grossman ~ July-August 2011 ~ Question of the Month
The U.S. is a net energy importer in terms of oil and gas trade with Canada. Canada’s energy exports to the United States were valued at $76 billion in 2009, while U.S. exports to Canada were valued at $11.5 billion. Canada provides 21 percent of U.S. crude oil imports (nearly 2.5 million barrels a day) and 87 percent of U.S. natural gas imports.  More »