Address by Minister Van Loan to Canada Israel Chamber of Commerce

No. 2010/62 - Toronto, Ontario - September 2, 2010

Check Against Delivery

Canada is proud of its relationship with Israel. As we mark the 61st year of our diplomatic relations, there is much to celebrate.

From the ties of commerce to our close political relations to the bonds of family and to friendship spanning decades, our two countries have long been close partners in many ways.

Over the years, your chamber has been an engine of these efforts.

As our government looks to deepen Canada’s ties to Israel, we’ll continue to count on your support, advice and vision.

A spirit of cooperation is essential as the world works through these challenging economic times.

And Canada has been very much a leader in opening new doors of cooperation with our trading partners.

We unilaterally eliminated all tariffs on imported manufacturing inputs, equipment and machinery, making Canada the first tariff-free zone for manufacturers in the G-20.

Our new free trade agreements with Peru and the European Free Trade Association are now in force.

In May, we signed the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement.

In June, we received Royal Assent to implement a free trade agreement with Colombia.

And we’ve introduced implementing legislation for a free trade agreement with Jordan.

But we’re not stopping there.

We’re now engaged in free trade negotiations with the Caribbean Community, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Korea and Ukraine, as well as the Central American Four: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

We’ve also completed a joint study with India that will lead to the negotiation of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

We recently concluded the fourth round of negotiations with the European Union, part of the most significant Canadian trade initiative since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

We also see great opportunities for expansion within the Canada-Israel partnership. It is, quite simply, a partnership that works.

Canada-Israel: A partnership that works

Canada and Israel have emerged from the global recession in good shape.

The Free Trade Agreement between our two countries proves the success of open trade and investment. Our two-way merchandise trade more than doubled, reaching $1.3 billion.

But our success goes far beyond trading goods back and forth.

Canadian companies such as Research In Motion, Air Canada and Super-Pharm are building a strong commercial presence in the Israeli market.

Similarly, Israeli investors like Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ormat Technologies, Amdocs and TheraVitae have made significant inroads here in Canada.

Our trade with Israel is far more diversified than our trade with other countries in the region.

We’re also making things together for the global marketplace, trading inputs and services back and forth, and becoming part of each other’s value chains.

The Harper government is committed to building on this success.

Our team of trade commissioners posted across Canada and in Israel is focused on helping Canadian businesses create more commercial connections in Israel.

On the policy side, officials from both countries are working closely together through our ongoing joint economic consultations.

We’re looking at a range of areas to improve our trade relations, such as broader market access under our free trade agreement and mutual recognition of conformity assessment for telecommunications equipment firms.

We are also working toward taking our science and technology partnership to a new level in the years ahead. 

Innovation: A success story

No one nation has a monopoly on knowledge and talent. That’s why developing tomorrow’s breakthroughs must be a team effort.

When it comes to collaboration in innovation and technology, Canada and Israel have led the way.

Without a doubt, our track record of collaboration in the area of science and technology has been a driving force behind our partnership over the years.

Through the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation, private-sector scientists and researchers have shown a great level of cooperation.

Since its start 16 years ago, the foundation has seen Canadians and Israelis working together in a range of cutting-edge areas.

We’ve seen over 70 full-scale industrial research and development projects involving some 120 Canadian and Israeli companies, in areas such as satellite imagery, medical research and environmental technology. And companies are benefitting.

Recent reports indicate that over the last decade, the foundation has helped companies develop a number of innovative technologies in various fields. For example, thanks to one project, two Canadian companies had combined revenue streams of about $550 million over a ten-year period.

Canada and Israel continue to recognize the importance of jointly developing new technologies and bringing them to market.

In the March 2010 budget, our government announced $8 million over two years to extend the International Science and Technology Partnerships Program.

This program funds bilateral research and development commercialization projects with four partner countries, including Israel.

It’s a great sign of our commitment to the Canada-Israel partnership, especially during these tight financial times.

Earlier this year, prime ministers [Stephen] Harper and [Benjamin] Netanyahu agreed to take yet another important step in the partnership and establish a bilateral innovation conference.

It’s currently in development and stands as a great example of how Canada and Israel can deepen their partnership in a critical area for the future. 

Conclusion

Investment, innovation and cooperation are all hallmarks of a sophisticated, forward-looking trade relationship. And ours is a relationship that holds great potential to create jobs and prosperity in both countries in the years ahead.

But the Canada-Israel partnership is also a story that transcends dollars and cents.

It’s a story about people.

It’s about the thousands of Canadians living in Israel, and the thousands more who have ties there.

It’s about the 315,000-strong Jewish-Canadian community—people who have built an enduring bridge of understanding and friendship between our two countries over the years.

And it’s about the scientists, officials, academics and business people  whose countless interactions help drive our partnership forward each and every year.

These relationships breathe life into our partnership.

And they help support our government’s approach to it.

I look forward to building on these ties myself, when I visit Israel next month during yet another opportunity to carry our relationship into the future.

Let’s work together to create more opportunities for Canadians and Israelis. And let’s rededicate ourselves to another 60 years of cooperation, friendship and achievement between Canada and Israel.

Thank you.