"The United States and Canada maintain the world's largest bilateral trading relationship, one that has been strengthened over the past three decades by the approval of two major free trade agreements. Although commercial disputes may not be quite as prominent now as they have been in the past, the two countries in recent years have engaged in difficult negotiations over items in several trade sectors, including natural resources, agricultural commodities, and intellectual property rights. However, these disputes affect but a small percentage of the total goods and services exchanged. In recent years, energy has increasingly emerged as a key component of the trade relationship, with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline emerging a major source of contention. In addition, the United States and Canada work together closely on environmental matters, including monitoring air quality and solid waste transfers, and protecting and maintaining the quality of border waterways. Many Members of Congress follow U.S.-Canada environmental, trade, and trans-border issues that affect their states and districts. In addition, because the countries are similar in many ways, lawmakers in both countries study solutions proposed across the border to such issues as federal fiscal policy and federal-provincial power sharing. This report begins with an overview of Canada's political scene, economic conditions, security and foreign policy, and environmental initiatives, focusing particularly on issues that may be relevant to U.S. policy makers. This country survey is followed by several essays on current bilateral issues in the political, international security, trade, and environmental arenas. The questions following each summary are designed as potential inquiries to Canadian officials to promote thought and discussion among policy makers."
CRS Report for Congress, 96-397