Nov 18, 2022

Canadian Chamber recommends responses to US Inflation Reduction Act before House Trade Committee

On November 15, 2022 David Billedeau, the Canadian Chamber’s Senior Director Natural Resources, Environment, and Sustainability appeared before the House Standing Committee on International Trade to address the potential trade impacts of the United States Inflation Reduction Act.

In his remarks, Billedeau highlighted the potential opportunities as well as the risks for several Canadian sectors, including automotive manufacturing, critical minerals, clean technology, and labour. He also made several important recommendations, including working to enable Canada to attract more venture capital, expedite approvals to reduce project lead times, and for Canada to create a green jobs strategy.

David Billedeau’s opening remarks

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Madam Chair and Honourable Members, thank you for the opportunity to attend today’s discussion on behalf of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

While the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 presents opportunities for Canadian businesses, we must also recognize significant challenges facing Canada’s private sector. To that end, I will tailor my remarks to focus on automotive manufacturing, critical minerals, clean technologies, and labour considerations.

With respect to automotive manufacturing, the Act introduces and extends EV tax credits—notably, eligibility for these credits ultimately requires EV batteries to be 100% made in North America by 2029. This creates considerable opportunities for Canada’s natural resources and manufacturing sectors.

However, given the protracted timelines to build upstream and midstream mining infrastructure, as well as the lead times to modify automotive supply chains, it will be difficult for automotive manufacturing firms operating in Canada to meet credit eligibility requirements in the near-term.

This brings us to critical minerals. Global demand for certain minerals is expected to increase by up to 600% by 2040. This presents a rare opportunity for Canada, and the Chamber believes that Canada can serve North American and global market demand for minerals required for electric vehicles and clean technologies.

To match domestic mineral production and processing with increasing demand, it is important to focus attention on facilitating resource development within Canada—where it takes an average of 15 years to move mining projects from discovery to first production. These lead times will impact Canada’s decarbonization efforts while limiting opportunities to develop new and existing mining and manufacturing facilities across Canada.

On the topic of clean technologies, the Inflation Reduction Act contains supports for domestically produced alternative fuels such as hydrogen and biogas—as well as for clean technologies like CCUS. Further, the Act contains credit multipliers for products meeting domestic content and local human resources thresholds. Such incentives will make it difficult for Canadian clean technology firms to compete in the US market.

While Canada’s recent Fall Economic Statement has provided investment tax credits for clean technologies, Canada must take further measures to secure a level playing field and opportunities for Canadian workers.

Lastly, a few comments on labour availability. A study conducted by the BlueGreen Alliance indicates that the Act will create over 9 million “climate-tech” jobs in the US by 2032—largely in STEM fields.

The skyrocketing demand for labour in the United States will place pressure on Canada’s ability to attract and retain skilled workers to drive its own green economy. This is concerning as the competition for talent is already a major pain point in Canada, with around one-third of Canadian businesses experiencing labour difficulties.

With these factors in mind, I would like to table the following recommendations for your consideration.

First, to further develop our mining, clean technologies, and advanced manufacturing sectors, Canada must be able to compete for major capital investments. This requires securing venture capital for early-stage projects, accelerating the implementation period of the Strategic Innovation Fund, expanding fund allocation for critical minerals, and ensuring that incentives within the Inflation Reduction Act do not serve as non-tariff barriers to Canadian businesses.

Second, to reduce mining project lead times, the Government of Canada must work with a spectrum of stakeholders to responsibly expedite development and permitting timelines.

Third, Canada needs a green jobs strategy that brings together all levels of government—as well as secondary and post-secondary institutions across the country—to develop the domestic capacity of skilled workers needed to drive our economy and build the projects that will get us to net zero. 

In close, the Canadian Chamber encourages the Committee to carefully examine the regional economic implications of the Inflation Reduction Act while also looking towards the boundless potential for Canada to drive global transitions to net zero. Thank you again for your time and consideration. I look forward to your questions.


Jun 16, 2022

ArriveCAN App should be used to streamline, not complicate, border crossing: Canadian Chamber tells House International Trade Committee

On June 15, 2022, Mark Agnew, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Relations, appeared before at the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade to address concerns around the border, customs backlogs, and the ArriveCAN App in particular.

Agnew advised committee members that using digital tools, such as the ArriveCAN App, to streamline border crossing procedures is important to help improve flow at Canada’s borders and enable contactless travel. Unfortunately, ArriveCAN’s experience has proven difficult as a result of it creating duplications, myriad locations to enter the same data, a lack of functionality, and problems with accessibility.

Fixing these problems is an urgent matter, with summer travel season arriving.

Mark Agnew’s opening statement
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Chair and honourable members, thank you for having me back again to this committee. It is a pleasure to be here in person. The Chamber is glad to see the committee take on this study as the summer travel season begins to ramp-up.

To say the pandemic has been a disruption to international travel is an understatement. We went through a complete decimation of travel flows and then backlogs at key points of entry as travel begins to ramp up. Executing effective border policies is not optional given the criticality of travel for the economy, whether it is tourism or business travel. We must get it right in order to ensure Canada remains an attractive destination for travellers. Given the long lead-in time for event planning, organizers will take decisions today that impact potentially 12-18 months out.  

I want to turn to the committee’s main topic of interest, the ArriveCan app. The Canadian Chamber has long been a proponent of digitizing border procedures to support contactless travel. Unfortunately, the ArriveCan experience has proven difficult at the border.

The first point to note are the duplications created by the app.  The traveller experience has been complicated by the diffuse places that the same information has to be inputted. As someone who recently travelled out of the country, it is striking that information is being entered through both my airline and the app profile.    

The second point are the data requirements for the app, particularly for tourists from the US engaging in day trips. Travellers that would engage in day trip activities simply wouldn’t have a Canadian address. This directly impacts border communities and we’ve heard from those border town chambers about the impact on cross-border movement.

Third are the concerns with universal access. I am fortunate to have the tech literacy to use the app, but many travellers – particularly elderly travellers – do not always have that literacy. I was astounded to read from the CBC recently that a shop in Maine is offering dedicated services to help Canadians fill out the app. There are also issues for travellers whose first language is neither English nor French.

CBSA reported that as of the first week of April that 99% of air travellers and 94% of land travellers are using the app. With contact time with CBSA officers having significantly increased from the pre-pandemic 30 seconds per traveller, the system in its current form is not efficient and simply not working.

This isn’t to say scrap the app. As I noted a moment ago, digitizing border processes is vital. We instead should reorient the app to focus on streamlining customs procedures, as well as see what sort of manual alternatives may be needed in reserve.

Ultimately the app is in large measure a reflection of border policy.

The announcement last week of suspending randomized testing and moving testing out of airports was a welcome development, and this week partially lifting vaccine mandates is welcome news. However, there is more work ahead. For example, the decision to lift the outbound vaccination requirement, but maintain it for inbound travel, risks straining the system as this means tests of return and quarantine for unvaccinated Canadians coming back into the country.

With summer travel season here, and the last two seasons being missed, we don’t have the luxury of time to get this right.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to your questions.


Apr 28, 2022

Canadian Chamber encourages House International Trade Committee to set clear priorities for its Indo-Pacific strategy

On April 27, Mark Agnew, Canadian Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Relations, appeared at the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade regarding its study into opportunities for Canada in the Indo-Pacific region.

Agnew suggested four important, though not all encompassing, areas of focus to guide the strategy: trade policy opportunities, to be clear-eyed regarding the challenges surrounding China, to be judicious in targeting specific markets and sectors, and supporting the role of business in bolstering trade relationships.

Mark Agnew’s opening remarks
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Chair and Honourable Members, thank you for the invitation to appear as part of your study into opportunities in the Indo-Pacific region. This is a timely study as the government continues work on its Indo-Pacific Strategy.

I would like to focus my few minutes on several non-exhaustive priorities that the government should consider as it develops its Indo-Pacific Strategy.

The first area is trade policy. We have a number of initiatives ongoing in the region that hold potential for opening new market access opportunities. This includes recently announced initiatives, such as trade negotiations with ASEAN and Indonesia, but also the potential for CPTPP expansion and opening opportunities in underutilized markets like Taiwan.

It is important to go into these discussions with a clear set of priorities. Some of these priorities for the Canadian Chamber include:

  • Tariff liberalization for our key export interests;
  • Robust digital trade chapters that ensure the protection of cross-border data flows and that data localization does not become a condition of doing business; and
  • Enhanced regulatory dialogues to ensure that non-tariff measures, such as SPS regulations, do not become a barrier to trade

In the context of the CPTPP specifically, we urge the government to maintain the high standards of the agreement and not water down its provisions.

The second area is the approach to China. Although the government has committed to delivering an Indo-Pacific Strategy, the elements that pertain to China will be critical. It is important to be clear-eyed about the size of the market and of course the geopolitical challenges. How we engage with China needs to intelligently balanced considerations and it must be anchored around cooperation with allies.

The third key consideration is focus. The reality is that we live in a world of finite resources, financially and in terms of bandwidth to deliver. It would not be realistic to expect that Canada could make a push in all sectors in all countries. We will need to be judicious in how we select markets of focus and the priority sectors that are pursued.

The fourth and final area I want to mention is around the role of non-governmental entities in bolstering trading relationships through the development of on-the-ground connections. Businesses engage in commerce rather than governments, and in doing so they play a part in our footprint in the region. Governments should see trade missions and other activities that facilitate those connections as part of the broader set of foreign policy tools. I know that when I travel abroad, I represent not only the Canadian Chamber but also what foreign nationals perceive about Canada. Therefore, strong government-industry collaboration is critical and mutually reinforcing.

Thank you for your attention and look forward to your questions.


Mar 15, 2022

The Resurgence of International Trade Shows: Showcase Your Products with an ATA Carnet

As in-person events and international travel are slowly resuming, the pre-COVID opportunities for Canadian businesses to showcase their products around the world are starting to regain momentum. The benefits of international trade shows don’t just apply to exhibitors and attendees, but also facilitate foreign relationships and trade and help spur economic growth. Additionally, obtaining an ATA Carnet through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce streamlines all your business’s temporary importing and exporting needs.   

What is the advantage of international trade shows?

The Canadian Chamber wants Canadian businesses to excel and flourish in international markets, and trade shows are an excellent way to achieve these goals. Having the ability to easily promote, demonstrate and display your business’s products and services is key to helping foster meaningful relationships with suppliers, customers and distributors. Trade shows are an invaluable source of key networking and educational opportunities. Specifically, international trade shows can provide your business with the ability to raise brand awareness and expand your customer base globally.

The fundamental role of trade shows for Canadian businesses isn’t ending; it’s evolving.

While the industry has been hit with setbacks, and in-person events have been limited due to the pandemic, there is still a demand for trade shows. A recent study from Caretta Research and Bubble Agency found that 83% of respondents prefer in-person events as their communication method to keep up with industry trends and vendor news.

This year, exhibitors are looking to make more meaningful connections with industry insiders and customers, find suppliers that can allow them to create products with sustainable materials and continue their development in business-to-business commerce.

As a Canadian business looking forward to these exciting opportunities, using an ATA Carnet to bring goods to an international trade show minimizes the potential issues of unwanted import tariffs, letting you focus on trade show preparations and exerting your influence on an international scale.

ATA Carnet uncomplicates the international trade show experience. 

Exhibitors face enough stress with all the planning involved to attend trade shows and ensure their products are ready to be transported across international borders. Troubleshooting customs and duties at the border should not be one of them. 

Perhaps you are travelling to Las Vegas for an exhibit. As you are going through customs, you declare that the reason for your visit to the United States is for business. Upon looking at the products you have brought with you, the customs officer applies a duty fee to your materials, even though you have no intention of selling them. Having an ATA Carnet is the solution to this kind of issue.

What is the ATA Carnet?

Applicable to approximately 80 countries, the ATA Carnet is often described as a passport for goods. It simplifies paperwork when crossing borders for the temporary importation and exportation of goods. 

 The ATA Carnet provides a flexible and seamless experience.

  • The temporary duty-free importation of a company’s goods: By choosing to use an ATA Carnet, your company is allowed to cross borders with commercial samples, professional equipment and goods for presentation and use, with trade shows being a prime example.
  • It replaces foreign customs documents: When your business brings goods to international trade shows, you do not need to budget for customs tariffs in each country you intend to visit. Since a large number of countries use the ATA Carnet, one document can give you access to multiple markets. For example, you can attend a trade show in the U.S. and then head to another exhibit in Europe shortly afterward with the same ATA Carnet.
  • The paperwork is obtained in advance at a fixed cost in Canadian currency:  There is no need to make customs payments or post bonds in foreign currencies. You only pay once per ATA Carnet you purchase, which varies depending on how much your organization’s products cost
  • Businesses can use the ATA Carnet for unlimited trips within a one-year validity period: Once your company purchases its ATA Carnet, the number of times you choose to attend international trade shows is entirely at your discretion. Furthermore, the ATA Carnet has the ability to be tailored to the items listed on the document. For example, your company is attending a trade show to demonstrate your state of the art equipment. Potentially, your first four travels require 20 items listed on your ATA Carnet. But, the following seven you attend only need 17 of those items. With the ATA Carnet, your company can travel with some or all of the items listed, removing the hassle of exporting unnecessary products. 

ATA Carnet is the best document to use for your international trade show needs.

There is no better time to consider the ATA Carnet when travelling. When doing so, your business needs to know all the steps to filling out the forms and ensuring your goods’ movement across borders is properly documented.

How to use an ATA Carnet

Once your business receives its ATA Carnet, you will need to ensure you have the correct amount of counterfoils and vouchers for the number of trips you have planned, along with having the front cover validated by Canadian customs. The following steps are to familiarize yourself with the purpose of the coloured pages.

  • Yellow: These are the forms required for validating the exported goods from Canada and are required again when re-importing your goods back into the country.
  • White: These forms are used for the importation and re-exportation of your goods in the foreign country.
  • Blue: These forms are used when you are transiting through a country to arrive at your destination.

A more detailed walkthrough is available here.

Ultimately, the advantages of the ATA Carnet are the simplification of customs procedures for temporary importation/exportation and the avoidance of any unnecessary expenses. Your company can instead focus on exhibiting the results of your hard work.

For more information and to begin the application process, click here


Mar 10, 2022

Why Buy American narratives fail to see the forest for the trees

By Candace Sider, Vice-President of Regulatory and Government Affairs, North America, at Livingston International

There’s a peculiar kind of politicking coming out of Washington, particularly on matters related to trade.

It appears that as the Biden administration moves to mend fences across the Atlantic with allies in Europe, it is taking for granted long-time allies right next door.

Rather than diffuse emerging and ongoing disputes with its neighbour to the north, the Biden administration seems intent on exacerbating them through protectionist measures. These were on full display in November with the decision to increase the rate of countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber that have been in place since 2017. In addition, the now-beleaguered $1.7 trillion Build Back Better bill included a tax credit on electric vehicles that incentivized the purchase of EVs made with American union labour. Most recently, the issue of how regional value content for vehicles is to be calculated to qualify for tariff exemption under the new USMCA became a point of contention as Washington demands an unnecessarily more complicated calculation than outlined in the trade deal. These are all part of an ongoing policy of trade protectionism euphemistically coined as “Buy American.” Individually, each appears relatively innocuous, but collectively they create a sentiment that normalizes free-market and free-trade barriers and creates an air of uncertainty that discourages cross-border investment.

To be sure, trade across the 49th parallel remains robust. In fact, in 2021, Canada saw its trade surplus with the U.S. nearly triple from the previous year and grow 70% over the pre-pandemic period. It was the largest annual surplus since 2008. And therein lies the rub. Supporters of Buy American policies point to such figures as a threat, interpreting a trade deficit with Canada to be a form economic invasion from the north. But such views are out of touch with a world in which global trade is highly integrated and designed to allow economies to enhance productivity and cost efficiency through international commerce.

Proponents of Buy American policies tend to view deficits as a binary contrast of finished-goods imports over finished-goods exports. That is far from the case. In fact, prior to the pandemic, two-thirds of Canadian exports to the U.S. were cost-saving and productivity-enhancing intermediate goods integral to U.S. production of finished products, many of which were eventually exported from the U.S. to international markets, including Canada. Research from the U.S. Department of Labor shows imported intermediate inputs contributed eight per cent to the annual average growth rate of labour productivity in the private sector between 1997 and 2015.

Equally misleading is the narrative that trade adversely affects U.S. employment. A study by the Business Roundtable conducted in 2019 revealed an estimated 39 million American jobs are supported by trade, and that 7.2 million of these are sustained by trade with Canada alone.

As U.S. producers look to diversify their pool of suppliers away from Asia, they are increasingly investigating near-shore options with Canada being high on the list. U.S. private investment in Canada grew 8.8% between 2018 and 2020, even as the pandemic discouraged such activity.

If trade diversification in the U.S. is to take hold in earnest in the coming years, Canada will inevitably play a critical role. U.S. policymakers would be wise to reduce points of tension across our shared border and incentivize investment, rather than create the conditions that make reliance on overseas production a mainstay of the U.S. supply chain.


Mar 02, 2022

How businesses and Canadians can help Ukraine

Like many Canadians, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is appalled by the further Russian invasion of Ukraine.

We support efforts by Canada and its allies to take strong measures to end the conflict. The recent actions by the Russian government strike at the rule of law and international norms, which are the foundations of our democratic societies and our economic system.

Like many Canadians, we express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian business community during these tragic times for their country. For those that would like to help, we are providing links to the specific areas of greatest need that outline meaningful ways to make donations. We are also providing links to various information sources regarding sanctions and other relevant policy. 

How to help


The Canadian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce is working with chambers, associations, and businesses to provide assistance and aid for Ukrainian businesses operating during this time, in order to support Ukrainians and the Ukrainian Army. Read more and contribute.

Canadians wishing to make a humanitarian donation may do so through the Canadian Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Crisis Appeal. The Government of Canada will match donations, up to $10 million, until March 18. Donation receipts are provided.

Donations may additionally be made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ukraine Emergency. Donations are tax-deductible.

Employment opportunities

Canadian employers are encouraged to list employment opportunities on the Government of Canada’s Jobs for Ukraine Job Board to help Ukrainian migrants find employment when they arrive in Canada. Ukrainian job seekers can also use the job board to find opportunities. More information on Canada’s migration efforts for Ukrainians is available through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUEAT) program.

Refugee sponsorship

Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program allows Canadians to help resettle refugees as individuals or families that qualify under the refugee and humanitarian program. Those in Quebec may access the Program for Refugees Abroad. More information on becoming a private sponsor of a refugee is available through the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program.

Call for volunteers and support

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is currently collecting information from individuals and organizations that may be able to assist. Support could include employment, housing, immigration services, legal, in-kind donations, transportation, daycare/childcare, and more. Complete the UCC form if you or your organization can provide assistance.


The Government of Canada and numerous other countries have enacted sanctions in order to help bring an end to the conflict.

Canada has additionally cut Russia and Belarus from Most-Favoured-Nation Tariff treatment, which results in the application of the General Tariff for goods imported into Canada that originate from Russia or Belarus. Under the General Tariff, a tariff rate of 35% is now applicable on imports from these countries.

Travel advisory

The Government of Canada is urging Canadians to avoid all travel to Ukraine due to armed conflict with Russia. If you are in Ukraine, you should shelter in a secure place unless it is safe for you to leave the country. Read more and access emergency Government of Canada contact information.


Feb 23, 2022

The time to re-energize Canada’s relationship with the U.S. is now

By Mike Gladstone, Director External Affairs Canada, Enbridge

As the world digs out from under the weight of COVID-19 and looks to address the dual challenge of climate change and economic recovery, Canada’s relationship with the U.S. has never been more important.  As friends and allies who share the world’s longest undefended international border this relationship is defined to a large extent by a common interest in trade.

Energy, which flows both ways over the border, is a key component of our trade relationship. In 2019, total trade between our countries was approximately US$718.4 billion, including $138 billion in energy trade[1]. We export more than we import. Energy accounts for about 25% of Canadian exports to the U.S., and just 8% of our total imports – with about 90% of the energy flowing between borders being crude oil and petroleum products.

What’s more important than where we’ve been is where we’re going. Recent events in Europe have underscored the role North American energy can play in supporting our allies around the world.

As global demand for low-carbon goods and services grows, Canada is well positioned to meet the need. Executing a Canadian low-carbon export strategy will take a serious effort, but the benefits could be immense.

And keeping in mind our interdependence with our American friends on climate and energy, it only makes sense that we jointly tackle climate change and transform our highly integrated energy systems

“Building back better” can involve renewable and electricity projects, emerging energy solutions like carbon capture, utilization and storage, hydrogen and renewable natural gas. But it should not overlook modernization of existing assets such as Line 3 and Line 5, projects that use the latest technology, improve safety, protect the environment, create jobs, and benefit communities.

Canada’s commercial relationship with the U.S. is strong and aligned to deliver business— and citizen-friendly outcomes. It also can be transformational. But to maintain Canada’s standing as a trading nation, and as a North American bloc with our neighbours to the south, we need to be policy shapers, not policy takers.

In our increasingly connected global economy, the world has a choice on where it gets its energy. We contend that North American energy is good for the world, good for Canada, good for Canadian workers, and good for the planet.



Feb 10, 2022

Focus on implementing the Canada-U.S. Roadmap Partnership, Chamber tells House Standing Committee on International Trade

On February 9, 2022, the Canadian Chamber’s Senior Vice President, Policy and Government Relations, Mark Agnew, appeared at the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade, studying Canada-U.S. relations. In support of the Our Trading Future campaign, Agnew highlighted irritants facing Canada-U.S. relationship and encouraged lawmakers to take action to implement the Roadmap Partnership that was signed last year between the President and the Prime Minister.

Mark Agnew’s opening statement:

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Madam Chair and Honourable members, it is a pleasure to be back at this Committee for my first appearance of the 44th Parliament. It is good to see both familiar and new faces. I hope we’ll be able to do this in-person again at some point.

The Canadian Chamber is glad to see the House of Commons International Trade Committee prioritizing a study on Canada-US trade issues. As a multi-sector industry association, there is no trade relationship that is more important than that with our southern neighbour.

As always in a relationship this complex, like any good marriage, there are inevitable frictions and areas of disagreement. I will say a brief word about three of those.

We have heard from some member companies about concerns on the implications of the US EV tax credit proposed in the Build Back Better legislation. While as of today the Build Back Better legislation looks comatose, the Canadian Chamber – as a matter of general principle – remains concerns with measures, such as Buy American, that will disrupt cross-border supply chains and leave Canadian-based operations at a competitiveness disadvantage.

I would like to note – and thank – parenthetically the work of Honourable Members from all parties in pushing back against various Buy American measures.

I also note the Committee’s interest in the softwood lumber issue. For longer than I’ve been wearing a suit jacket and a tie, this has been a significant trade irritant and we are disappointed to see continued tariffs on Canadian exports. The Canadian Chamber hopes to see our government initiate negotiations towards a new softwood lumber agreement that address the trade irritants. The imperative to do this was underlined in a resolution passed overwhelmingly by delegates at our 2019 AGM.

The third issue to highlight is the ongoing dispute over Line 5. Proposals like the one to force the shutdown of Line 5 are what happens when evidence-based policy making goes out the window. Everyone on both sides of the border wants a greener economy. Additionally, energy security is the foundation of predictable and efficient climate action because if we can’t have certainty on where and how we get our fuel, it becomes that much harder to seek effective decarbonisation. Furthermore, transporting oil by trucks and trains is less safe.

However, as someone who has the vantage point of being able to look at the bilateral relationship from across numerous sectors, the challenge is that we frequently find ourselves on the back foot in a supplicant position.

As I’ve said in previous committee appearances, and continue to believe, no one wakes up inside Washington, D.C. thinking about how to do a favour for Canada.

Therefore, it remains critical for us to a) not make unforced moves like for example a retroactive application of a digital services tax that risks retaliation; and b) proactively work with the US on solutions to shared challenges. 

With the significant work that went into the Roadmap Partnership that was signed last year between the President and the Prime Minister, we need to focus on driving forward progress and not let that framework wither on the vine.

Allow me to briefly highlight of three mutually beneficial areas that deserve attention.

First is securing critical minerals supply chains. The governments need to use the Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals to ensure the resiliency of North American critical mineral supply chains. This will reduce dependence on unstable markets, thereby enabling more reliable sourcing for consumer, industrial and defence applications. We should also explore how procurement policies can be used to encourage North American-sourced products.

Second is strengthening the North American defense industrial base. Economic security and national security are inextricably linked and there needs to be a focus on renewing the continental defence industrial base. At a macro level this should take the form of setting out a new strategic framework that reflects the current security environment. On a tactical level the two governments should work together on the industrial development opportunities that can stem from the once in a generation modernization of NORAD.

Third is supply chain resiliency. The President and Prime Minister created a Supply Chain Working Group last year before the North American Leaders Summit. We urge the governments to engage industry in these efforts to ensure real world progress can be made. It is also important to renew work towards the Regulatory Cooperation Council and ensure updated sector work plans.

Thank you again for the invitation and I look forward to your questions.


Nov 02, 2021

How the Minister of Foreign Affairs can support Canadian businesses

After over a year-and-a-half of lockdowns and sacrifice, Canadians are seeing the benefits of their efforts to stop COVID-19. The pandemic is not over, but we can now look beyond COVID to plan for our future. Now, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is writing “mandate letters” to members of the Cabinet with policy priorities that will support growth of the Canadian economy.

Our country’s foreign policy plays a critical role in creating the conditions within which Canadian businesses operate. Foreign policy and trade policy must work jointly towards shared objectives.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs should:

  • Work with the Minister of International Trade to improve Canada’s export permit system to enhance transparency for companies and ensure service standards are met.
  • Revitalize our bilateral relationship with the United States, with a particular focus on exploiting new opportunities in the defence sector, critical minerals and regulatory cooperation, as well as pushing back against Buy American. These activities should be accompanied by ongoing consultation with Canadian businesses.
  • Engage with Canadian companies on the path ahead for our bilateral relationship with China.

To see all 21 of our mandate letters to ministers, click here.


Apr 23, 2021

Ideas to ensure Canadian integration into U.S. supply chains and access to markets

On April 22, the Canadian Chamber’s Vice President, Policy and International, Mark Agnew, appeared at the House Special Committee on the Economic Relationship between Canada and the United States. In support of the Our Trading Future campaign, Agnew highlighted key issues concerning the Canada-U.S. relationship on behalf of Canadian business.

Mark Agnew’s opening statement:

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Mr. Chair and honourable members, thank you for the opportunity to meet with the Committee again. Since my last appearance, the Canadian Chamber has launched our Canada-U.S. relations initiative covering five critical areas:

  • the border;
  • environment and natural resource issues, including critical minerals;
  • regulatory cooperation;
  • Buy American; and
  • defence and security supply chain issues.

We look forward to engaging with committee members on all the above, but the latter areas are the most germane to today’s committee focus.

I don’t need to belabor to this Committee the Canadian business community’s concern with procurement practices that risk shutting Canadian companies out of the U.S. market. 

Rather, I want to highlight six forward-looking ideas to ensure our integration into American supply chains and access to U.S. procurement markets. We hope the committee will highlight these in their report to the government.

First, look comprehensively at the importance of goods and services. There is a risk that we myopically focus on goods and forget high-value services. Just last week the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company was awarded a Joint Venture contract worth up to $2 billion for design and services related to work for the U.S. air force. This demonstrates the potential of the value of services, particularly if you’re talking about support contracts that can last years instead of a one-and-done goods delivery.

Second, we need to know what we’re bringing to the table. In the 2008/09 we had a bilateral negotiation with the Americans, but given COVID and just finishing USMCA, no one wants another bruising negotiation. We need to think about how we can be a serious partner. This includes CUSMA implementation, supporting North American supply chain resiliency, leveraging critical minerals, and even our own procurement practices to Buy North American, including in defence given our continental interests. There is tremendous potential to partner and work with U.S. firms and to provide Canadian world class expertise in the clean energy sector. For example, there is potential to partner in the rehabilitation of hydroelectric facilities or in the development of small modular reactors.

Third is the unique nature of our shared defence and security industrial base. The DPSA and other arrangements are critical tools for Canada to maintain access. The Committee should explore in its recommendations how these arrangements could be codified to provide further certainty for Canadian companies. The continental industrial base is critical to continental defence.

Fourth is engaging on emerging buy clean initiatives. The recently introduce CLEAN Future Act would establish a Buy Clean Program that sets performance targets for projects that receive federal funding. It was introduced with an explicit goal to bolster U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and we need to ensure standards used and its implementation do not shut out Canada. Our approach should seek to address climate challenges while generating economic opportunity in environmentally sustainable technologies, goods and services. This also means positioning Canada positively with our lower-carbon footprint products.

Fifth, industry-government collaboration is critical. The Canadian Chamber and our members worked closely with the government during the CUSMA negotiations. Another example is when the government and Chamber members collaborated last year to ensure the U.S. 2021 defence appropriations legislation did not pass with the inclusion of provisions that would have been detrimental to Canadian exporters. The Biden Administration’s supply chain Executive Order thankfully recognizes the importance of consultation with allies. We are calling on the government to engage in those reviews and collaborate with industry to ensure a Canadian view is well represented.

Sixth, we need better data. Buy American and Buy America are hideously complex when combined with WTO GPA commitments, waivers, and sub-national programs. There is not really solid data in the public domain about Canadian access to procurement markets. Canadian businesses – and myself personally – want to get a better handle on the scope of the problem. Companies likewise want to know where to invest future business development efforts.

I said in a recent media interview that few wake up in the morning in Washington thinking about how to do Canadian businesses a favour. There are a multiplicity of interests inside Washington. Our Embassy led by Ambassador Kirsten Hillman does a fantastic job, but we are at a critical moment in the relationship and need to really drive home the point of why it is in the U.S. self-interest to work with us.

The Canadian Chamber looks forward to continuing its work with this committee and I would be glad to answer any questions.

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