In collaboration with Anthony B. Kim*
Canada and the United States have a profound and multifaceted partnership and alliance, strengthened by shared values and interests. The bilateral cooperation between the two countries reflects our common history and mutual commitment to address the most serious bilateral, multilateral, and global issues. In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to remember our shared values and to work together to overcome the challenges we face.
The temporary closing of the U.S.-Canada border to non-essential traffic may be prudent in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but it’s important to keep in mind the crucial importance of the free circulation of ideas, people, goods, and capital that has been firmly institutionalized in the long-standing, mutually beneficial relationship between the Unites States and Canada.
In fact, the U.S. and Canada long have benefited from the world’s largest and most comprehensive economic engagement, which supports millions of jobs in each country and dynamic entrepreneurial growth. The two countries share a $1.4 trillion bilateral trade and investment relationship, with America’s goods and services trade with Canada totaling more than $700 billion.
Further recognizing the importance of closer economic cooperation and partnership, the two values-sharing and willing allies have charted a new chapter on trade and investment. Timely approval of the recently renegotiated North America Free Trade Agreement (now the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, commonly known as USMCA) in Washington and Ottawa was another welcome milestone.
It is notable that Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland—the country’s top trade negotiator—emphasized that the passage of USMCA was “something we were able to do to help the Canadian economy amid the “unprecedented challenge from the coronavirus pandemic.”
The fact is that our two nations have a long history of pragmatic cooperation, even when our leaders and governments have hailed from opposite sides of the political spectrum. Indeed, a vital foundation underpinning the robust, high-quality U.S.-Canada relationship, which extends far beyond governments and is deeply embedded in business and cultural relationships, is our shared adherence to free market ideals that preserve and enhance economic freedom.
As The Heritage Foundation’s recently released 2020 Index of Economic Freedom highlights, policies and governing systems that promote freedom, whether through improvements in the rule of law, the promotion of competition and openness, or suitable restraints on the size and economic reach of government, enable countries to uncover and formulate practical solutions to a wide range of challenges that confront the world.
In previous years, the United States and Canada, the two dynamic free-market democracies, have stood together near the top of the Index as mostly free economies, with their competitive economic freedom ratings well above the world average.
As the Index has shown since 1995, nations with freer markets tend to be more resilient in times of severe uncertainty and more capable of handling external shocks. Economic freedom, which is the backbone of free, transparent, and dynamic market systems, matters more than ever to win the ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic and chart sharp, timely economic rebound.
Sharing the world’s longest un-militarized border, the United States and Canada have bonded through a dynamic, forward-looking relationship. The two countries closely collaborate every day on critical economic and security issues. With the economies, societies, and infrastructure of the U.S. and Canada so deeply intertwined, preserving and advancing economic freedom together is the path forward for ensuring the two willing allies’ shared future prosperity and security.
Michel Kelly-Gagnon is President and CEO of the MEI, Anthony B. Kim is research manager at The Heritage Foundation. The views reflected in this op-ed are their own.