Rep. Stephens Participates in Canada Border Study Tour to Promote Automobile Industry in the South

ATLANTA – State Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) recently participated in a Border Study Tour of the border between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The Border Study Tour was designed to educate state legislators about the U.S.-Canada economic partnership and benefits that border initiatives may have for Georgia and other Southern states.

“The roads and bridges between our countries serve to create jobs and economic development,” said Rep. Stephens. “The key to successful border patrol is ensuring security without slowing down trade. I have now seen firsthand, at both the port of Savannah and the Detroit-Windsor boarder, how successful our U.S. Border Patrol is a detecting illegal activity while still ensuring the timely movement of commerce.”

Not only is the U.S.-Canada trade relationship the largest and most integrated trading relationship in the world, Canada is the top export destination for 35 states, including Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi. In 2012, exports to Canada from Southern states amounted to over $83 billion.

The Border Study Tour began at the 25th Annual U.S.-Canada Automotive Dinner in Dearborn, Michigan. The delegation then traveled to Windsor, Ontario via the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel for a briefing by the Canada Border Service Agency on U.S.-Canada security cooperation and Canadian Immigration procedures. The crossing is the busiest border crossing in North America.

While in Windsor, the delegation toured NARMCO, a high quality auto parts manufacturing supplier to the North American auto industry. NARMCO also has a production facility in Gadsden, Alabama, and supplies auto parts to the Mercedes, Kia and Hyundai auto assembly plants in Georgia and other Southern states. NARMCO officials briefed the delegation on border/trade issues, including the importance of expanding the border crossing capacity to better integrate North American supply chains. Briefings then focused on the importance of the expansion of the proposed new international Trade Crossing that will facilitate and enhance more efficient transportation across this vital land trade corridor. On the U.S. side, briefings from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency followed, detailing the operations at the Ambassador Bridge crossing trade corridor.

Rep. Stephens, who chairs the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee, was joined on the Border Study Tour by Alabama state Representatives Barry Mask and John Merrill, Kentucky state Senators Ernie Harris and Christian McDaniel, and Mississippi state Representative Deborah Dixon.

The Border Study Tour was organized and sponsored by the government of Canada through the Consulate General Of Canada’s office in Atlanta, as well as the Atlanta based Southern Office of the Council of State Governments (CSG), and the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC).

Representative Ron Stephens represents the citizens of District 164, which includes portions of Bryan, Chatham, and Liberty Counties. He was elected into the House of Representatives in 1996, and is currently the Chairman of the Economic Development & Tourism Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Rules, and Ways & Means committees.

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