Canada’s Consul General in New York spoke to a crowd of northern New York officials Monday evening in Plattsburgh.
Consul General Phyllis Yaffe delivered the annual Distinguished Canadian Address sponsored by The Development Corporation and SUNY Plattsburgh’s Center for the Study of Canada and Institute on Quebec Studies. Development Corporation President and CEO Paul Grasso says they have sponsored the consul general’s visit for years. “We have so many Canadian companies here and the trade relationship is so important that to bring people of Phyllis Yaffe’s stature down here to talk about the relationship is important for the entire community, not just the business community, but the entire community. It helps us to understand better the mentality in Quebec and in Canada and it also helps us to formulate our message a little bit better if we understand from their perspective how they’re perceiving activities in the United States.”
Yaffe, who was appointed to her position in July 2016, spoke about the shared values between the U.S. and Canada. She noted that trade is a key pillar of the partnership. "Today Canada-U.S. free trade framed within NAFTA accounts for more than 100 Canadian-based companies in this area employing more than 2,500 people from the North Country. Overall more than 17,000 jobs in the North Country region depend on trade with Canada. Exports from this region to Canada totaled $626 million in 2015.”
Yaffe reported that bilateral trade between the two countries in 2015 reached $671 billion. That represents $2 billion in goods and services crossing the border daily. Trade between Canada and New York totaled $30.3 billion in 2016 supporting 680,000 jobs. But she expressed concerns over the state Buy America proposal. “In many ways we really are one economy. This is why forced localization efforts such as the Buy America proposal currently being pursued in New York state’s budget has the potential to greatly inhibit our robust and mutually beneficial relationship.”
After speaking for about 15 minutes, Yaffe took questions from the crowd. She was asked about widely publicized images of refugees from America crossing into Canada from a rural road in northern New York. “Although there are people using that approach to entering Canada it is not the issue that lots of people would like us to think. There are very clear rules about how one enters Canada and the laws are being applied as rigorously as they ever were. And we are absolutely concerned that every single person who enters Canada is scrutinized.”
Canada is celebrating its 150th year of confederation in 2017.