“We are each other’s largest trading partners. Some 29,000 jobs in Maine depend on export of products to Canada,” said Patrick Binns, Consulate General of Canada to New England.
Trade officials at the Beyond the Border conference in Bangor say that relationship can be grown even more.
“There are a lot of changes and pilot programs that are coming up about better movement between people going back and forth to Canada and also goods,” said Janine Cary, President of the Maine International Trade Center.
Thursday’s conference ws a gathering of Maine and Canadian officials and businesses from from throughout the region, looking at ways to improve and strengthen trade between Maine and Canada.
In particular, making border crossings more efficient.
“Trade definitely took a nosedive after 9/11. Obviously security was beefed up. That meant more paperwork, more delays, more time and it slowed business between our two countries,” said Binns.
Now trade officials from both sides are looking at how to speed it back up.
“We’re looking at how to reduce regulation, how to make border cooperation happen. And so the idea is catch the bad guys before they get to the border. Let’s not interrupt trade that should be happening,” said Binns.
Pre-clearance of goods traveling between Maine and Canada before they head over the border could make a major difference.
“That in particular could be really exciting in terms of logistics and getting things cleared in advance coming through Maine and using Maine as a distribution point,’ said Cary.
And those who run businesses that trade internationally are optimistic about the future of trade between our state and our neighbors to the north.
“I think it’s the great trust but verify situation. A lot of things that take common sense, the devil is always in the details. And it’s good that there’s a shared experience, a shared relationship and a shared language that the U.S. can use to benefit both U.S. and Canadian businesses to further those relationships and to improve ties in trade,” said Dan Bookham, Director of Business Development for Allen Insurance and Financial, based in Camden.