Ontario Premier Wynne and Illinois Governor Rauner Strengthen Ties

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner in Chicago
Photo: Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne with Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne released the following statement following her meeting with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner today in Chicago:

“Ontario and Illinois share a strong bilateral relationship. Free trade across the Canada-U.S. border is a vital piece of that partnership, contributing to the strength of both economies. Today, Governor Rauner and I discussed how that relationship supports good jobs and growth in both of our regions and how we can work together to create the right conditions for workers and businesses to thrive.

Canada is Illinois’s top customer in the world — with Ontario alone importing more than C$10 billion from the state in 2016. Illinois is one of 28 U.S. states that rank Ontario as a top first or second customer for exports. Trade and investment with Canada also supports nearly 340,000 jobs in the state. Specifically, 26,000 people in Illinois are employed by Ontario companies. This helps Ontario businesses grow and increases trade and integration between our economies.

Free trade is a particular priority for the automotive industry. It is a key economic engine for Illinois, as it is for Ontario, and our collaboration has helped the Great Lakes Region become a world-class hub for auto production. Every month last year, approximately C$233 million in vehicle and vehicle parts flowed between Ontario and Illinois. In 2016, Ontario imported almost C$2.2 billion worth of vehicles and vehicle parts from Illinois.

Ontario and Illinois are both also home to strong financial sectors, centred in Toronto and Chicago. This sector is key to each economy, responsible for around 10 per cent of GDP in 2015 for both Ontario and Illinois. Today, I also met with business leaders at BMO Harris’ Chicago office to discuss how we are committed to supporting continued mutual success for businesses in Ontario and Illinois.

Ontario and Illinois are more than economic allies — we are neighbours, linked by a shared natural resource, the Great Lakes. Trade and commerce within the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region forms the backbone of our regional economies and delivers more than C$7.4 trillion in GDP, or one third of all U.S.-Canada economic activity. Today, Governor Rauner and I discussed our ongoing commitment to the health of the Great Lakes. I also look forward to co-hosting the next Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers Leadership Summit with the Governor of Michigan this fall in Windsor and Detroit.

We can always accomplish more by working together, and today Governor Rauner and I reaffirmed our commitment to the foundation of our economic partnership — free trade.  We will continue to find innovative ways to grow trade and partnership between our governments and our businesses.

Today’s visit to Illinois follows an important decision by lawmakers in New York State to drop discriminatory Buy American provisions from its budget. Through our government’s extensive engagement with state legislators, we have ensured they clearly understand the value of the important business relationship between Ontario and New York State. This decision will benefit workers and businesses on both sides of the border, and it demonstrates why it is crucial that we continue these important conversations with decision-makers across the U.S.

I am committed to doing that. I will continue to support Ontario workers and businesses by advocating for free trade and open, fair and competitive access to government contracts with all of my U.S. counterparts. As Premier, I am working to create opportunity and security for people in our province. Free trade creates good jobs for the people of Ontario, and I will continue to stand up on their behalf every time.”

Photo from: www.thestar.com

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