By Timothy P. Murray
During the 2016 Presidential campaign, there has been considerable talk about the equity of international trade deals and whether they help or hinder the U.S. economy. During these conversations, it is critical for all Americans, and the people of Massachusetts, to fully understand the incredibly important economic and trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada.
Speaking before a large audience gathered for the Chamber’s Business & Government Forum sponsored by Ventry Associates on April 5, David Nathan Alward, Canada’s Consul General to New England, offered a fascinating overview of this successful relationship. Prior to David Alward’s role as Consul General, he served as the 32nd premier of New Brunswick, a position comparable to that of governor in the U.S.
French Canadians are one of our region’s largest demographic and played a crucial role in Worcester’s early development. By 1870, nearly 40,000 French Canadians had settled across Central Massachusetts. What many may not know is that even today, our Canadian ties continue to be a core contributor to successful trade and commerce in Massachusetts, not to mention travel and tourism.
There are 219 Canadian-owned companies operating in the Commonwealth providing 26,000 jobs in nearly every economic sector with average salaries of $57,610. This amounts to $1.5 billion that contributes to paying for housing, taxes, goods and services, and more in Worcester and beyond.
These jobs require continued investment in our trade relations with Canada –– our number one customer. Annually, $3.1 billion in goods are exported from Massachusetts and $7.6 billion are imported from Canada. In 2015, Massachusetts exported more than $2.2 billion of product to Canada.
Travel and tourism between Massachusetts and Canada is part of the positive two-way economic impact as well. In 2015, approximately 886,300 Canadians visited Massachusetts and spent $365 million, and Massachusetts’ residents spent $721 million traveling to Canada.
Canada and their business partners have collaborated with the Commonwealth and other states on energy trade projects with a determined focus toward environmental protection and preservation while continuing to reduce its own carbon footprint.
Here in New England and throughout the U.S., Canada is a strategic partner in energy production to the tune of $11 billion annually, helping to lower this region’s high energy costs both for consumers and businesses. Hydroelectric power accounts for more than 60 percent of Canada’s electricity generation, making Canada the world’s third largest producer of hydropower. A recent study by the Massachusetts Clean Electricity Partnership found hydropower reduced wholesale electricity, natural gas, and emissions by $603 million annually in Massachusetts. Along with low operating costs, hydropower is also renewable and offers storage capacity that complements other renewables, such as wind and solar.
As a top ally, Canada has a positive impact on the Massachusetts economy. Collaborating with the U.S. government; Canada operates a well-functioning border security program, where 400,000 people cross daily, and enhancing its maritime and other transportation systems for better synergy with U.S. cargo ports.
As we go about our work in improving our economy and seeking to create jobs in the private sector, leaders in Massachusetts and at all levels of government and business would be wise to build on the important economic and cultural connections already established with Canada.
– Timothy P. Murray is President and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, former city mayor and lieutenant governor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.