Today, the Congressional Northern Border Caucus held its first meeting in the 113th Congress. The Caucus, which brings together House Members from states along the Canadian border, is co-chaired by Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Congressman Bill Owens (D-NY). The panel discussion today focused on improving trade and security cooperation between the United States and Canada with remarks from the Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer and Alan Bersin, Assistant Secretary of International Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. Michael Fitzpatrick from General Electric and Kelly Johnston from Campbell Soups were also on hand to provide specific insights into regulatory cooperation between the United States and Canada.
"Today, we discussed increasing trade between the United States and Canada without having to compromise our mutual security," said Congressman Kevin Cramer. "With our long friendship of working together, we are confident in our ability to streamline processes to enhance both trade and security. Then we can take this experience and apply it to enhance trade and security with other countries. I look forward to continuing work with my colleagues in Congress, Canadian officials, business leaders, and others to improve the quality of life for our citizens."
"There is a bright economic future ahead for the United States and Canada," said Congressman Bill Owens following the event. "Through the Beyond the Border agreement and other initiatives, we are finding new ways to improve the security procedures and regulatory frameworks that shape the way people do business along the Northern Border. By further capitalizing on our unique partnership with Canada, new opportunities will emerge to establish a North American century in which both countries can prosper and succeed."
Congressman Cramer touched on the energy development taking place in both countries, and the number of tourists and shoppers who cross the border each day. North Dakota's exports increased 26% in 2012 to $4.29 billion, with Canada continuing to be its number one export destination by accounting for 71% of exports. Oil, gas, agricultural machinery, and agricultural commodities continue to lead North Dakota's exports to Canada.
The Caucus also took the opportunity to discuss a Department of Homeland Security proposal to study a fee for crossing the U.S. border. "Imposing a fee on people crossing our border is counter to everything we are trying to achieve. It will obstruct trade and tourism, in addition to sending a poor message to our neighboring countries," Cramer said.
Congressman Cramer is a member of the Natural Resources and Science, Space and Technology Committees, including the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, and the Subcommittee on Energy of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.