Leveraging relationship with Americans seen as key to cultivating prosperity in the global marketplace

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excerpted from from Business in Vancouver

…as Americans cluster behind a shield of protectionism to help stave off the effects of the most severe economic crisis in its history, Colin Robertson said B.C.’s political, business and labour leaders should seize the initiative to engage with their U.S. counterparts. “The onus is on us,” Robertson said in an interview. “Things are going to get tougher in the next while. They are tough now because of the economic recession, but there’s a new wave of protectionism in the United States.” He added that living next door to the American giant can at times be “frustrating and even uncomfortable” for Canadians. But in United States to 2020 and the Requirement for Canadian Initiative, Robertson shows that the proximity also affords Canada a unique seat of influence. The paper is one of three forming the first chapter of Outlook 2020, a B.C. Business Council initiative exploring B.C.’s future and its ability to prosper in a global marketplace.

B.C. has the upper hand in some respects and should parlay that ad- vantage into advancing its own interests with the U.S., said Robertson, who is a senior fellow at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. These include security – “we watch their back door, and we do it pretty well” – and energy, whether it’s the oilsands or the electricity that kept the lights on in California during its 2003-04 power crisis. On the economic front, the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama plans to create three million jobs, but Robertson said too few Americans know that the country’s trade with Canada provides the basis for more than seven million American jobs. ican jobs. “We have to constantly remind the Americans of the importance of the relationship, because most Americans would think that it’s China, Japan or Europe that’s their biggest trading partner; they don’t think of Canada.” “You want to have the reputation as being a partner that they can rely upon because the Americans are par- ticularly concerned about crime and security. If drugs can come in, then so can people.”Canadians, he said, look at Americans with an almost unhealthy fixation, but Americans rarely think about Canada except as a place where hockey is played. “We have to get down there and tell our story.”

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