Canada is worth talking about

DanHaving been involved in business growth efforts for as long as I have, there is one thing I’d like you to know about international trade: it’s very hard.

Missouri businesses are incredibly fortunate to exist in the United States, where they can sell to a massive domestic market. That’s a great benefit to being here.

Yet, for the most ambitious companies, success in foreign markets can be a game-changer. As a state, we want more of our companies to take this path.

I’ve been involved in several efforts to encourage international trade in Missouri. From my experience, I can tell you these efforts can be expensive and time consuming, sometimes taking years to build relationships and trust.

Given these challenges, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has long been working to build bridges with other countries.

We’ve traveled to China—multiple times. We’ve been to Brazil. We’ve already spent time in Cuba.

We will be doing even more as we seek to fulfill the vision of Missouri 2030, our strategic plan for growth. (If Missouri 2030 is still new to you, find out what it’s all about at


Missouri and Canada are trading like hotcakes. Annual trade between the state and the northern nation now tops $8 billion annually.

But with all the excitement and newspaper ink given to trade opportunities in the emerging markets, it can be easy to overlook golden opportunities right next door—in Canada.

Many Missourians don’t realize that Canada is our state’s biggest international trade partner. Each year, our state and Canada conduct about $8 billion in bilateral trade. We welcome nearly 200,000 Canadian visitors each year. A growing number of Missouri businesses are opening up shop in Canada. Likewise, more Canadian companies are employing Missourians.

What all this means is that there’s a well-worn path to the north. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Canada is tapped out on opportunity.

Canada’s new free trade agreement with the European Union creates a vast new open market. Meanwhile, Canada is investing heavily to develop its west coast shipping infrastructure in a bid to become the front line in Asian-Pacific trade. Read about some of these infrastructure projects.

Canada is also benefiting from an oil boom, which is having a surprising impact in Missouri. Click here to read about this.

There is plenty of help available for Missouri companies wanting to explore these opportunities, including Canadian Consul General Roy Norton, who we interview here.

One side effect of our successful relationship with Canada is that when things are going well, we tend not to talk about them. But we think Canada is worth talking about.

I hope this issue of Missouri Business helps you understand the multifaceted relationship between our state and our closest foreign partner.

If you want to talk shop about Canada or other potential opportunities to sell abroad, don’t hesitate to contact us at the Missouri Chamber.

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