From cross-border trade to security, New York’s northernmost communities strive for close ties with our neighbors to the north. The Consul General of Canada in New York delivered the Distinguished Canadian Address last night for the Center for the Study of Canada at SUNY Plattsburgh.
This is not the first time Consul General of Canada in New York John Prato has been in Plattsburgh. He has attended Chamber of Commerce functions in the past. SUNY Plattsburgh Center for the Study of Canada Director Christopher Kirkey notes that the Consul General’s office formally requested the opportunity to come to the college last year. “He has a breath of knowledge and passion for the Canada-U.S. relationship that in some ways is unrivaled amongst political leaders and diplomatic forces in the United States. So it was I think a real treat for our greater Plattsburgh community to have the opportunity to hear him speak .”
A crowd of community and business leaders gathered at the Valcour Conference Center to hear Consul General John Prato’s Distinguished Canadian Address entitled “Canada and the United States - Partners in Energy, Security and Trade.” He began by praising upgrades at the Champlain border crossing. “I don’t think there is a better crossing between our two countries. That’s about 5400 miles and this is the best. I don’t say that lightly. I really think you’ve got the infrastructure in place for the next ten, twenty years. I think that will position you well as trading patterns change and logistics become even more important as we compete as a region.”
Those regional ties are crucial. Prato cited data showing that $742 billion in trade flows between the two countries making Canada and the U.S. the largest trading partners in the world. “New York sells more to Canada than it does to the next three countries combined. The Peace Bridge is equivalent to the trade between the United States and South Korea. In this state about 680,000 jobs are tied with trade with Canada. The one that really sets the record is 36 million people in Canada buy more goods from the United States of America than over half a billion people in Europe. Now how is that possible? It has to do with the fact that half of our trade is for intermediate goods. It’s not final goods trading. That means we make things together.”
Prato added that the North Country and Buffalo regions are the two areas that understand Canada better than any other part of the U.S. “When I view Plattsburgh I view it in the bi-national context. You’re one hour from Montreal, an incredible global international city. And what you’re good at is understanding the two areas and how they work together. So you are an incredible area of trade facilitation. You understand that Canada-U.S. relationship well because you live it every single day and it creates prosperity on both sides of the border.”
Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development Sue Matton notes that they have been working for decades with counterparts in Canada. “The really great thing is that he and his organization are so willing to work with us and that they are willing to work to help us especially with those Canadian border issues. I remember talking about these since way back in 1999 and now it’s finally coming to a point where we are making real progress.”
Prato also spent time on campus with students and visited the Champlain Port of Entry during his two-day visit.