RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley welcomed Canadian International Trade Minister James Scott Peterson to Raleigh Tuesday, when they officially opened the Consulate of Canada.
Louis Boisvert will serve as the Consul Senior Trade Commissioner in Raleigh.
"It is most fitting that Canada chose North Carolina as the home of one of its seven new consulates," Easley said. "More than 90 Canadian companies call North Carolina home. They employ more than 23,000 North Carolinians and have invested more than $2.6 billion in our state.
"These companies represent some of our finest corporate citizens and range in industrial sectors from software development and telecommunications to furniture and apparel."
In September 2003, Canada announced the opening of new consulates throughout the United States, including the one in Raleigh. The new consulate will represent Canadian interests in North Carolina and South Carolina.
"Canadian companies have built significant research and development links with industries in the Raleigh-Durham area, particularly in the biotech industry," Easley said. "We see tremendous potential to continue to build upon these partnerships."
Canada is North Carolina's biggest trading partner. One quarter of North Carolina's exports went to Canada in 2002, while Canada supplied the state with $152 million in pharmaceutical products and $111 million in telecommunications devices.
Peterson said Raleigh was chosen because of the growth in the region and its emphasis on biotechnology.
"The opening of the consulate is a way for Canada to reiterate how important the Raleigh-Durham region and the state of North Carolina are to Canada as a partner," Peterson said. "Bio-industries, health industries, and information and communications technologies are making the Southeast one of the most vibrant areas in the United States.
"Major population and corporate shifts to North Carolina, especially in financial services, advanced technology and manufacturing, have made it a new economic center."