The numbers are in – 931,890 jobs in California are supported by trade with Canada. And if the U.S.-Canada border were closed today, more than 8 million American jobs would be negatively affected.

Canada is a significant source of foreign investment in California, with Canadian companies employing more than 35,000 people at 299 businesses in 1,400 locations across the state. Canada is California’s second largest export market behind Mexico, ahead of China and India. It is also California’s largest source of foreign tourism. In 2008, Canadians made more than 1.25 million visits to California, spending $1.1 billion.

Canada is the fifth largest source of foreign direct investment in terms of businesses in Los Angeles County; Canadian-owned and -affiliated establishments in the county account for 7,000 jobs and $390 million in wages.

The city of Los Angeles is the county’s largest location for employment by Canadian-owned and -affiliated companies, with 2,700 jobs and $168 million in wages. A good example is Bombardier, which employs more than 300 people, and supplies and maintains double-decker rail cars for Metrolink.

Mutual prosperity

The recession hurt millions of people in both Canada and the United States. Our mutual prosperity is greatly enhanced by strengthening our integrated economies and ensuring that our shared border operates efficiently and safely. The United States and Canada have been, and will continue to be, each other’s best customer. More than $1 million worth of goods and services cross our border every minute.

Canada is the top export market for 34 of the 50 states. Canadians buy almost three times more from the United States than China does. In addition, the United States exports more to Canada than to China, Japan and the United Kingdom combined.

The nature of the economic relationship between our two countries is unique. Canadian and U.S. companies make things together through integrated supply chains. An estimated one-third of all U.S.-Canada trade is within the same company and another one-third occurs through an established supply chain between companies. Goods routinely cross the border multiple times – up to six times in the case of complex manufactured goods like automobiles – before the finished product is ready for consumers.

This production system depends on an open and stable trade environment, and an efficient and secure northern border. Partnerships, not protectionism, hold the key to lasting economic recovery. The world economy is simply too integrated and too interconnected to close doors to commercial cooperation. The “Buy American” provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 threatened the integrated supply chains that we’ve created together over the decades, potentially affecting our companies that work together, and impacting well-paying U.S. and Canadian jobs. Organizations on both sides of the border, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, fought hard against these provisions.

Same spirit

Together, driven by the same spirit of partnership that has been the hallmark of Canada-U.S. relations for so many years, we were able to overcome the first hurdle. We negotiated an exemption from many of the Buy American provisions, and we’re now discussing a more comprehensive bilateral procurement agreement for the longer term, one that holds the potential to benefit businesses and workers in both countries. In this interconnected global marketplace, Canada has emerged as a leader, both in terms of the environment for investments that our government’s leadership has created, and in the actions we’ve taken to encourage free trade and further integration of our economies.

As Canada’s representative in Southern California, I recently shared the importance of the Canada-U.S. economic relationship with members of Congress in Washington. The message? When you vote, think North American competitiveness. Think high-paying jobs in your state. Think Canada. And when voting on legislation, think open and competitive procurement markets to preserve jobs on both sides of the border.

We depend on one another to compete globally. Canadians and Americans are in this together.

David Fransen is the consul general of Canada in Los Angeles.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.