Address by Minister Van Loan at Invest in Canada Panel Event

No. 2010/39 - Shanghai, China - June 1, 2010

Check Against Delivery

It’s a great pleasure to see so many of you here today, and to tell you a little about Canada.

We are joined by a number of great panellists here this morning, including Paul Lee, former President of Electronic Arts, and currently the Managing General Partner of Vanedge Capital Partners, David Fung from the ACDEG Group, and Nicholas Parker, co-founder of the Cleantech Group.

I thank them for participating in our session today.

Let me begin by saying how excited Canadians are with this year’s World Expo. I encourage everyone to visit Canada’s spectacular pavilion, where you’ll no doubt get a good sense of Canadian creativity and innovation.

Canada is also a first-class destination for business and investment.

We’re committed to building commercial partnerships around the world—including right here in China.

Canada-China trade and investment

More than 100 years ago, Canada established a trade office here in Shanghai. Since then, our two countries have forged strong and deep commercial ties.

Since 2005, two-way trade between our countries has grown an average 8.5 percent annually, reaching nearly $51 billion last year.

China is now Canada’s third-largest export destination, and our second-largest supplier of merchandise.

Even last year, in the midst of the global recession, foreign direct investment stocks from China to Canada increased nearly 70 percent, making this country our tenth-largest source of foreign direct investment.

We’re very pleased that China knows what so many other countries around the world are discovering—that Canada is a great place in which to do business.

Canada’s economic advantages

In fact, we offer one of the world’s most welcoming environments for foreign investment. Last year, we initiated changes to Canada’s Investment Act to make our foreign investment review processes more open and transparent.

Our stability in the midst of the recession is another attraction. Like China, Canada has navigated the global economic downturn better than many. We responded quickly to the global crisis with a large stimulus package. And our strong, stable banking sector helped us avoid many of the problems other nations faced.

Unlike in many nations, no Canadian bank has failed and none has required public bailout. In fact, our banks have actually been growing in international markets.

With strong fundamentals like this, our economic forecasts are excellent.

The International Monetary Fund is predicting that Canada will lead the G-7 in growth for the next few years.

The Economist Intelligence Unit tells us that Canada will remain the “best place to do business” in the G-7 over the next five years.

Indeed, Canada has led the G-7 in growth for much of the past decade. We also enjoy the G-7’s lowest debt-to-GDP ratio.

These strengths are allowing us to make key investments to help make Canada more competitive.

In transportation, for example, we’re investing in Canada’s Asia Pacific Gateway—the system of modern ports, rail and roads that offers our friends in China and across Asia fast, efficient and reliable access to and from North American markets.

We’re investing in education and research—our most recent budgets have included over $4 billion over two years in funding for higher education, and research and innovation at institutions across Canada.

Incidentally, Canada’s G-7-leading level of investment in higher-education research and development is well appreciated by foreign investors—and, no doubt, by the 42,000 Chinese currently enrolled in Canada’s top-notch universities.

In short, financial and fiscal stability have made it possible for Canada to continue investing in Canada’s competitive edge.

Canada’s tax and cost advantage

But you can’t be competitive without an effective approach to taxation. Here again, Canada has a lot to offer. Canada currently offers the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G-7. We’re on track to having the G-7’s lowest overall corporate tax rate by 2012.

And we recently announced that Canada would become the first “tariff-free” zone in the G-20 for imports of equipment and machinery.

Of course, we offer the lowest costs in other areas as well.

According to KPMG [LLP, the accounting and consulting firm], Canada offers the lowest overall business costs in the G-7—5 percent lower than in the United States.

KPMG also says Canada offers the lowest costs on research and development in the G-7—almost 13 percent lower than our American competitors.

And we offer one of the world’s most generous tax treatments for research and development expenditures.

Canada’s innovation advantage

Of course, lower costs and taxes aren’t the only reasons that major multinationals are pursuing research and innovation opportunities in Canada.

Canada is also home to hundreds of world-class research institutions and universities and tens of thousands of scientists and engineers doing cutting-edge research.

  • Do you know that Vancouver is number 1 in North America for patents filed for fuel cells?
  • Or that Toronto is number 3 in North America for patents filed in the automotive sector?
  • Or that Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto consistently rank in the top 10 cities in North America for life-sciences patent filings?

Canada’s people advantage

We’re also very proud of Canada’s “people” advantage.

We have a highly educated and diverse workforce.

We have the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates among the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In the G-7, we rank first in high-school completion rates, first in college-completion rates, and second in university-completion rates.

And we lead the G-7 in terms of the availability of qualified engineers.

Many global businesses come to Canada knowing they’ll be able to find the talent and skills they need to advance their business goals.

They also appreciate Canada’s cultural diversity.

One in five Canadians has a mother tongue other than English or French.

That’s a real advantage for companies looking to serve global markets from Canada.

I should also note that Chinese languages are the most frequently spoken after English and French—not surprising, given the 1.3 million Canadians of Chinese origin living in Canada.

Canada as an energy superpower

Our position as an “energy superpower” is also attracting global interest—especially from countries like China, which are looking for secure, stable and reliable energy sources to power their growth.

Canada’s a good choice.

We’re a major supplier of every type of energy.

We’re the world’s sixth-largest producer of crude oil and have the second-largest proven reserves.

We rank third in natural gas production.

And we’re the world’s largest producer of uranium.

We’re also fast becoming a green technology leader, with growing expertise in carbon capture, clean coal technologies, and air-pollution control.

Some exciting work is also under way in the areas of wind and solar energy, and fuel cells for automobiles.

I’m sure Mr. Parker can offer some great insights on Canada’s leadership in these areas.

And in fact, you can find Canadian expertise at work here in China.

We’re close partners on the green energy front.

In December 2009, we signed an agreement to enhance cooperation in combatting climate change.

And Canada’s contribution to the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate includes 14 projects in China.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, these are just some of the advantages our global partners—including our friends here in China—are discovering in Canada.

Last December, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited China, our two countries indicated that we had entered a significant new era in Canada-China relations.

We also committed to strengthening our trade and investment ties.

That’s exactly what we aim to do.

To help do this, I’m pleased to announce today that Canada will host an “Invest in Canada” week here in Shanghai in October.

Each day, we’ll focus on a key sector in which Canada has proven experience and expertise—mining and resources, automotive, life sciences, clean technologies and digital media.

I invite all of you to visit the Canada Pavilion in October to join us as we celebrate Canadian excellence in all of these areas.

And I look forward to working with you in the time ahead to deepen the Canada-China partnership, and promote prosperity and job creation in both of our countries for years to come.

Thank you.