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Published October 05, 2012, 02:32 PM

Conference Highlights N.D.-Canadian Trade

With $1.2 million in goods and services crossing the U.S.-Canadian border every minute, the two countries are the world’s two largest trading partners.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

With $1.2 million in goods and services crossing the U.S.-Canadian border every minute, the two countries are the world’s two largest trading partners.

That fact is not much appreciated, according to Michael Flaherty, acting Canadian general consul in Minneapolis, who is presenting a conference today in Grand Forks focusing on trade, travel and security at the border.

“It’s an awareness-building exercise. People aren’t aware of the size and the scope of that relationship,” he said Thursday. “Improving the efficiency of the border, while maintaining security, is vital to our economy.”

UND, the state Chamber of Commerce, state Trade Office and the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. are also presenting the conference, called “Beyond the Border Action Plans: What do they mean for North Dakota?” at 2 p.m. at the Alerus Center.

Beyond the Border is a cross-border initiative launched in February 2011 by President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to speed up legitimate trade and travel, improve North American security and align regulatory approaches between the two countries.

The program resulted in several pilot projects, infrastructure improvements and shared-information initiatives.

Two similar conferences were held this year in Bismarck and Minneapolis.

“Canada and the U.S. is the largest two-way trading relationship in the world,” Flaherty said. “We make things together.”

Forty-nine Canadian companies in North Dakota employed 3,417 people in 2010, based on a Canadian government study. An estimated 24,200 North Dakota jobs depend on trade and investment in Canada.

North Dakota alone exports more to Canada than to all other countries combined.

Exports of goods and services totaled $2.1 billion in 2011 and $1.34 billion in the first half of 2012.

In 2011, North Dakota imported $2.5 billion from Canada, an increase of more than 30 percent from the year before.

“That’s a big jump,” Flaherty said. “After 2008, everything took a hit with the recession. That’s part of the recovery. What we’re saying is the trend line is positive.”

Meeting agenda

• 2 p.m.: Opening remarks by Brian Shipley, Canadian consul in Minneapolis, and Susan Balcom Walton, UND vice president for university and public affairs.

• 2:15 p.m.: An overview of border and regulatory cooperation action plans with Flaherty and Tim Cipullo, U.S. consul in Winnipeg.

• 2:45 p.m.: Recent development and trends on the border with Mary Delaquis, director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in Pembina, N.D., and Yvonne Bremault, director of the Canadian Border Services Agency station in Emerson, Man.

Exports to Canada

North Dakota: $2.1 billion in 2011, up 25.7 percent from 2010.

Minnesota: $5.9 billion in 2011, up 12.8 percent.

South Dakota: $494,000 in 2011, up 25.5 percent.

Source: Statistics Canada

• 3:15 p.m.: Panel discussion on the significance of action plans for North Dakota with Tim Purdon, U.S. attorney for North Dakota; Dean Gorder, executive director, North Dakota Trade Office; Klaus Thiessen, president and CEO, Grand Forks region EDC; and Andy Peterson, president, North Dakota Chamber.