A Submission from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce
(Niagara, Ontario) – The announced closing of the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo last week (May 25, 2012) by the Canadian government will be a setback for trade relations between Canada and the United States.
“The Canadian Consulate in Buffalo plays an important role in fostering strong bi-national trade relationships,” explains Walter Sendzik, CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. “As a community that benefits directly from this trade with close to 30 per cent of all Canada-US trade passing through Niagara, the Consulate is a significant resource for one of Canada’s largest trade and commerce corridors.”
The Consulate is one of Canada’s largest and oldest diplomatic outposts in the United States. With the closure of the office in Buffalo, all consulate functions, including trade and business support services, will be moved to the Canadian Consulate in New York City. The move by the Canadian government to close a number of consulate offices in the U.S. is based on efforts to find savings within government operations.
“While we support the Canadian government in its efforts to find efficiencies to reduce overall expenses, the trade functions of the Consulate office in Buffalo play an important role in supporting cross border trade,” continues Sendzik. “The benefit of closing the office in Buffalo does not equal the positive impact that the trade office has on businesses in Southern Ontario. Consolidation of services to New York City will have a negative impact on businesses on both sides of the border.”
The Canadian Consulate in Buffalo has played a significant role in assisting companies dealing with a wide range of issues from passport regulations and cross border security to ‘Buy American’ legislation and proposed marine ballast water regulations. Officials at the Consulate also work closely with organizations like the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and Bi-National Economic and Tourism Association at the state and federal level in Washington D.C. to advance issues facing Canadian businesses.
“Niagara is the second largest trade crossing in Ontario and largest in terms of tourism crossing,” adds Kithio Mwanzia, Director of Policy & Government Relations for the Chamber. “The Consulate office in Buffalo is a strategic asset with services that must be kept open as the Niagara corridor between the GTA and Western New York continues to expand as an economic gateway within one of North America’s largest economic zones.”
The Greater Niagara Chamber will be engaging Niagara’s Members of Parliament and the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to advocate for the importance of this diplomatic post for Canadian and U.S. business and trade relationships.
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the champion for the Niagara business community. With over 1,300 members representing more than 30,000 employees, it is the largest chamber in Niagara, and one of the largest in Ontario.
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