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A confident Canada is good for the US, Consul General says

Rose Simone, The Record
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April 21st, 2010

KITCHENER -- An economically confident Canada, with strong and diversified trading relationships, is also good for the American economy, the United States Consul General, Kevin Johnson, said Tuesday.

Speaking during a luncheon at Bingemans in Kitchener, hosted by Canada's Technology Triangle, an economic development agency, Johnson said "in a sense, there is one economy between Canada and the United States."

That means that what is good for one country is also good for the other, he added.

Johnson praised the Canadian government for negotiating rather than getting stuck in an accusatory stance when the "Buy American" provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act threatened to sour relations last year.

Those provisions had prohibited foreign-produced iron, steel and other manufactured goods from being used in projects that were paid for by the $800 billion in U.S. government stimulus funding.

But Canadian and American counterparts were able to reach a deal in February, under which Canadian suppliers got access to certain types of projects in 37 American states. In exchange, Canada agreed to provide U.S. suppliers with access to a range of construction contracts in Canada's provinces and territories, as well as in a number of municipalities.

Johnson hailed the deal as an example of what can be achieved when the two countries co-operate.

The United States is also not threatened by Canada diversifying its economy and engaging in business with other trading partners, Johnson added.

"If Canada is producing more and becoming more globally integrated, whether it is through trade with China or India or anywhere else, that is good for the United States too," Johnson said.

Economic growth through trade "is not a zero-sum game," he added.

Johnson said Canada is entering an economically confident period, having survived the financial crisis in better shape than many other countries.

"You made boring bankers sexy again," Johnson said, adding that this renewed economic confidence should help Canada to have smoother relations with its much bigger neighbour.

But there is still work that needs to be done, he added.

Johnson urged Canadians to push for better enforcement of copyright laws. Despite having signed the World Intellectual Property Organization treaties, Canada's enforcement of copyright laws has been so weak, it is known as a haven for pirates, he said.

Johnson also said the border between Canada and the United States needs to be both secure and efficient.

"We are not going to give up one for the other, so it is never going to go back to the way it was before, when you could just wave your way through," he said.

Johnson said the election of United States president Barack Obama presents a great opportunity for Canada, because the new president is taking a more multilateral approach to relations.

"This is a great moment for U.S. and Canada relations," he said.

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