By Bill Lane
We sometimes take iconic landmarks located in our own backyard for granted. That is, until current events bring prominence to those locations. That may be the case now with Buffalo's Peace Bridge.
A beautiful structure spanning the Niagara River, the bridge allows Canadians and Americans to saunter between the two countries during the summer, while facilitating an enormous amount of trade year round. Yet it took trade negotiations that were at times contentious to remind us of our unique friendship with Canada.
Because of these trade negotiations, far more Americans now know that Canada is America’s biggest export market and second biggest trading partner behind China. But what many may still fail to appreciate is the sheer scale of goods and services that cross the border every year.
In 2017 the U.S. exported more goods to Canada’s 37 million people than it did to the 4 billion people living in the world’s nine most populous countries. That warrants repeating. The U.S. exported more goods to Canada than it did to China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia and Japan combined. In fact, on a per capita basis, Canadians buy eight times more American products than vice versa.
In some ways, the Peace Bridge is at the epicenter of not only the massive level of commerce between our two countries, but also the trade negotiations that have tested U.S.-Canadian relations.
Canada's 5,525 mile border with the U.S. requires multiple ports and border crossings to facilitate trade. The Peace Bridge is the third-busiest port on the northern border. In 2017, nearly $82 billion in goods crossed the Peace Bridge, with U.S. exports surpassing imports by nearly $4 billion. For perspective, this one port on the Canadian border handles the same level of trade volume as the U.S. does with all of India.
The stakes were especially high during talks to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement. As we learn more about the details and impacts of the recently announced United States- Mexico-Canada Agreement, it's important to note that 11 million jobs in the U.S. are currently supported by trade with Canada and Mexico. In New York alone, almost 800,000 jobs are supported by trade with our North America neighbors. Buffalo's Peace Bridge makes those jobs possible.
Buffalo may have started as a trading community in 1789 that quickly transformed into a thriving industrial town, but today it is at the nexus of U.S.-Canada relations. It is time to put things in perspective and remember that, from the D-Day beaches to the mountains of Afghanistan, Canada has been — and remains — a close American friend and ally. After all, one of the biggest benefits of free and fair trade is it promotes peace, friendship and understanding.
Bill Lane is executive director of Trade for America, a coalition that advocates for free trade.