Getting Started

The United States and Canada share the world’s largest and most comprehensive trading relationship, which supports millions of jobs in each country. Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of energy to the United States. Recognition of the commercial viability of Canada’s oil sands has made it the world’s third largest holder of oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and is the only non-OPEC member in the top five. Canada and the United States operate an integrated electricity grid that meets jointly developed reliability standards, and they provide all of each other’s electricity imports. Canadian uranium helps fuel U.S. nuclear power plants.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the United States, Canada, and Mexico aims to reduce trade barriers and establish agreed upon trade rules. It has resolved long-standing bilateral irritants and liberalized rules in several areas, including agriculture, services, energy, financial services, investment, and government procurement. The Regulatory Cooperation Council seeks to further stimulate trade by increasing regulatory transparency and cooperation between the United States and Canada and eliminating unnecessary regulatory differences and duplicative actions that hinder cross-border trade and investment.

Canada and the United States have one of the world’s largest investment relationships. The United States is Canada’s largest foreign investor, and Canada is the fifth-largest foreign investor in the United States. U.S. investment is primarily in Canada’s mining and smelting industries, petroleum, chemicals, the manufacture of machinery and transportation equipment, and finance. Canadian investment in the United States is concentrated in finance and insurance, manufacturing, banking, information and retail trade, and other services.

Bilateral trade disputes are managed through bilateral consultative forums or referral to NAFTA or World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute resolution procedures. Canada has challenged U.S. trade remedy law in NAFTA and WTO dispute settlement mechanisms. The two countries negotiated the application to Canadian goods of “Buy American” provisions for state and local procurement under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The United States has encouraged Canada to strengthen its intellectual property laws and enforcement. Canada passed an important copyright law on June 28, 2012.