The United States and Canada have maintained a strong trade relationship over the years, sharing signature products from both countries. In 2010, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada were valued at $16.8 billion. Geographical proximity, similar business practices and eating habits make Canada an attractive export market for new-to-export and new-to-market U.S. companies. Canadians often travel to the United States, developing a taste for our regional flavors, including California wine.

The California Wine Fair stopped by the Westin Hotel in Ottawa as part of its 2011 Canadian tour in early April. The event, sponsored by the California Wine Institute, U.S. Mission to Canada and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, hosted more than 120 California vineyards as they introduced their newest and best vintages from across the Golden State. This is the thirty-first year of the fair, which also toured Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City. The tour heads to Halifax this month.

U.S. wine exports to Canada increased by 30 percent last year and were valued at $269 million in 2010, due in large part to interest generated from promotional events throughout Canada. As a result, the United States is now the third largest supplier of wine to Canada, surpassing Australia last year. The lead suppliers remain France and Italy. Additionally, the United States registered the strongest growth by any supplier in Quebec, which was Canada’s largest provincial market for wine in 2010.

Every $1 billion in agricultural exports supports roughly 8,400 jobs in the United States. And strong trade continues to be a key contributor to building an economy that continues to grow, innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. Exports of U.S. farm goods in fiscal year 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010 – Sept. 30, 2011) are projected to surpass previous records by $20 billion. Moreover, the agricultural trade balance—a balance of U.S. exports versus foreign imports—is also projected to set a record surplus of $47.5 billion in 2011.

Our continued efforts to maintain a fruitful trade relationship with our neighbor to the north illustrate USDA’s commitment to achieving the administration’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling overall U.S. exports by 2014.