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Photo: Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty, former U.S. Ambassador Gordon Giffin, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and former U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins take part in a pre-Inauguration event hosted by the Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer.

I’m in Washington today to watch as President Obama begins a second term in the White House.

Like many Canadians, I will be watching closely to see what this next phase of his presidency will mean for us. The combination of slow growth and political uncertainty south of the border means that we are understandably looking for new opportunities overseas. Yet, while we continue to explore opportunities in Europe and Asia, we cannot turn our backs to our North American allies.

It can be easy to forget that eight million U.S. and three million Canadian jobs depend on bilateral trade. Our markets are so intertwined that we literally build things together. Each year more trade crosses the Ambassador Bridge—a single crossing—than the value of all trade between the U.S. and the U.K.

This means that while we may have weathered the recession better than many of our competitors, we are not immune to the challenges facing the U.S. economy. Nor can we achieve the prosperity we want without nurturing the world’s most important trading relationship. As in so many things, we do better when we work together.

To succeed in the face of increased competition from Asia and elsewhere, North America must stand united. Our participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership has the potential to redefine our unique relationship. It presents us with the opportunity to address 21st century issues such as data flows, intellectual property rights and the role of state-owned enterprises.

While we work together in our partnership in these areas, we must also continue to promote our other priorities. The border, regulatory cooperation, protectionism and energy security will remain at the forefront of our bilateral discussion.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with its U.S. allies on key areas such as the Keystone pipeline, the Beyond the Borders Action Plan and an urgently needed new bridge between Windsor and Detroit.

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