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Nixon promotes trade, transportation and pipelines during Canadian trip

Bill Greenblatt, UPI

While lauding a new Canadian trade deal, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon warned that Missouri’s future role in international trade will depend on improving transportation needs back home.

“Not just Missouri, but as a country, we’re going to have to make some decisions,’’ the governor said in a conference call Tuesday with reporters.

“Bridges don’t come for free. Ports don’t come for free. And last I checked, nobody comes out and pours concrete and puts rebar in for free,” Nixon said in an unusually passionate pitch.

“This is ultimately a choice about investment and I look forward to continuing a robust discussion with the legislature when they come back in January about what long-term investments we can make and how best to talk to Missourians about how necessary they are, to continue to be players in the world economy.”

Nixon admitted that he was chafing at his lack of success, so far, in persuading legislators to come up with some way to pay for the state’s needed improvements in infrastructure and transportation.

The governor’s comments came as he announced that he had signed a trade deal with the Canadian province of Alberta. Canada is Missouri’s biggest trading partner and it purchased more than $4.7 billion last year in Missouri products.

“It is the third trade agreement the governor has signed with a Canadian province in the past 18 months,” his office said in a statement.

The governor and his wife are in Canada for trade talks to promote Missouri products, particularly when it comes to agriculture and transportation equipment. His administration estimates that Canadian exports support more than 160,000 jobs in Missouri.

“One of the best ways to create jobs and boost our state’s economy is to expand trade relations and compete fully in the global marketplace because 96 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States,” Nixon said.

“This agreement with Alberta, along with the relationships we’re building on this mission, provides the opportunity to further expand our trade with Canada, Missouri’s top export market and one of the leading nations for investment in the Show-Me State.”

Alberta is Canada’s leading province for energy production. Last year, trade between Missouri and the province exceeded $465 million.  

Nixon and the state’s trade delegation met on Monday with executives of Edmonton-based Enbridge Inc., which runs an oil pipeline from Illinois to Oklahoma. The pipeline travels through 11 Missouri counties in the northern half of the state.

According to Nixon’s staff, “The pipeline provides more than $8.7 million annually in local property taxes and created more than 1,600 jobs during its construction. ”

The Missouri delegation also met with executives of TransCanada Corp., which the governor’s office noted, “operates a pipeline in Missouri and which is currently seeking regulatory approval for the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.