The United States and Canada have extensive ties that encompass a number of
areas, including trade, security, the environment, and international
affairs. The two countries cooperate widely in international security and
political issues, both bilaterally and through numerous international
organizations. Since September 11, 2001, the United States and Canada have
cooperated extensively on efforts to combat terrorism Canada’s foreign and
defense policies are usually in harmony with those of the United
States. Areas of contention are relatively few, but sometimes sharp, as
was the case in policy toward Iraq.
Border security is a major concern in the post-9/11 world. The two countries
have launched a number of initiatives that attempt to better secure the
common border without unduly disturbing legitimate travel and commerce.
Under the Bush Administration, the United States, Canada, and Mexico created
the Security and Prosperity Partnership, which was intended to provide
security for the continent against criminal activities and external
threats, while easing the flow of goods and travelers who cross the borders. It
also aimed to boost prosperity through promoting cooperation in a number
of areas, such as regulations.
The United States and Canada maintain the world’s largest trading relationship,
one that has been strengthened over the past two decades by the approval
of a bilateral U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement and the trilateral North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Aspects of the NAFTA may
be reviewed by the Administration and Congress as U.S. trade policy comes
under increased scrutiny. Although commercial disputes may not be quite as
prominent now as they have been in the past, the two countries in recent
years have engaged in difficult negotiations over items in several trade
sectors, affecting only a small percentage of the total of goods and
services exchanged. The issue that is currently causing the most controversy
is the “Buy America” provision that was added to the U.S.
economic stimulus package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,
PL 111-5). The measure essentially would require that public works
projects paid for by stimulus funds be completed with raw and manufactured
materials of U.S. content. While the United States maintains that this
provision is being implemented consistent with U.S. trade obligations,
Canadians object that the provision is protectionist, and is contrary to
U.S. obligations under the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement, and
the NAFTA. Canada is the United States’ largest supplier of
energy—including oil, uranium, natural gas, and electricity—and the energy
relationship has been growing.
The U.S. and Canada work together on environmental matters. The effects of the
extraction and processing of Canada’s oil sands are an issue of concern.
Among other effects, the U.S. and Canadian environmental and scientific
communities are concerned about the potential risk of oil sands
development for migratory birds. The two countries also have been
discussing restoration of the Great Lakes, as well as the possible impact
that climate change might have, including alteration of habitat for marine
wildlife. Also, global warming is forecast to open a channel through
Canada’s northern archipelago, creating a so called “northwest passage”
that Ottawa holds would be a Canadian inland waterway and the U.S.
and other nations hold would constitute an international strait, open to
international navigation. Canada’s sovereignty claim raises commercial,
environmental, and security issues.
Date of Report: September 13, 2012
Number of Pages: 227 Order Number: C-12008 Price: $79.99
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