CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The border between New Hampshire and Canada is just 58 miles long, but officials attending a trade conference Monday said there are millions of reasons why the neighbors should improve and expand their economic relationship.
Organized by the New Hampshire-Canada Trade Council, the "Talk Trade, Take Action" conference included sessions on trade opportunities in the areas of education, energy, manufacturing, public-private partnerships and women's entrepreneurship.
In opening remarks, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said New Hampshire sold nearly $650 million worth of goods to Canada in 2011. She said about 40,000 jobs in New Hampshire depend on U.S.-Canada trade, including about 4,600 workers at 48 Canadian-owned companies in the state.
"The ties between New Hampshire and Canada really represent a symbiotic relationship," she said. "We have to continue to invest and work hard to promote this relationship. The trade partnership didn't happen overnight, and it's not come easy. Businesses and entrepreneurs on both sides have worked hard to develop markets, sell products and attract investment, and there have been policymakers who've worked hard to promote the relationship."
As governor, Shaheen led a trade mission to Canada shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was touched by the outpouring of support from Canadians.
"That trip was a real demonstration of how vital it was to get back to business with our Canadian counterparts," she said.
As senator, she has attended an international security forum in Halifax, where she has met with business leaders to promote trade.
The group also heard from Patrick Binns, Consul General of Canada to New England, who said the Canadian government's recent plan to spend more on innovation, investment and education could pay off for New Hampshire businesses. For the first time, about $400 million has been earmarked for venture capital initiatives, he said.
"One thing Canada has been very good at in the past is doing the research and development, but not so good at supporting firms when it comes to finding the money they need to actually implement those ideas they researched," Binns said. "Money is not just for Canadian firms, it's for partnerships ... and many of those partnerships are with America."