International: Partnership Between S.C. & Canada Critical

Thursday, May 3, 2018

By: Nadia Theodore
Consul General of Canada to the U.S. Southeast
Special to Commerce Communications

The numbers show just how important Canadian trade and investment are to South Carolina. TD Bank, which employs 1,600 people in Greenville might be obvious, but what about Magna Seating, Haile Gold Mine, Roya Foods, Caristrap International and the 1,000 South Carolina jobs those firms represent?

In total, there are 145 Canadian-owned companies operating in the state, accounting for more than 13,000 jobs and contributing $543 million in salaries to South Carolina’s economy. All told, 165,300 jobs in the Palmetto State depend on South Carolina’s Canadian connection.

More than just a job creator, Canada is critical to the state’s trade activity. For nearly a decade, South Carolina’s neighbor to the north has been a top five export market for a wide range of Palmetto State products. In fact, Canada is the state’s second largest trading partner.

Some of the ascension may be attributed to geographic proximity. With the vast majority of Canadians residing near the border, which is about 1,000 miles away by land, it’s an easy destination for South Carolina-produced goods. Canada also has a stable economy and a similar business culture, making it a great launching pad for firms looking to export globally.

To build on this already strong partnership, this month, S.C. Commerce is facilitating a five-day trade and investment mission to Canada, giving companies the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with prospective distributors, agents and partners. Featuring visits to Montreal and Toronto, the trip represents the sixth time since 2012 that S.C. Commerce has led a trade mission to Canada.

It’s a great opportunity for small-to-medium-sized companies that are relatively new to exporting.

Trips like this strengthen our partnership, as do discussions like the ones I’ve had with Governor Henry McMaster and members of S.C. Commerce's International Strategy and Trade division about the importance of Canada-South Carolina trade and the future of our mutually-beneficial economic relationship.

In 2017, South Carolina exported $4.3 billion worth of goods and services to Canada, including: refrigerators and freezer equipment; electrical machinery; iron and steel products; and vehicles. And, that’s just a fragment of the trillion dollar trade and investment relationship the United States and Canada share -- by far the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world.

It’s worth noting that our two countries trade an average of $1.3 million in bilateral goods and services every minute of every day, and nine million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada.

In the days ahead, I’m excited to once again see Team South Carolina travelling to Canada. Moving forward, continued efforts, such as this upcoming trade and investment mission, will allow us to further strengthen the partnership that Canada has with both the U.S. and South Carolina.