No. 2010/63 - Mississauga, Ontario - September 7, 2010
Check Against Delivery
I appreciate the opportunity to speak directly with the business people who keep our commercial partnership with China strong, year in and year out. Our government will continue to rely on your vision, support and advice as we take steps to deepen our engagement with our Chinese partners in the years to come.
Over the years, our two countries have built close ties—socially, politically and economically. We applaud China’s growing support for private enterprise, entrepreneurship and free trade.
China is now the world’s second-largest economy and a key player in global supply chains.
The world is eager to do business with China.
And that certainly includes Canada. Canadian companies have built a deep, long-standing presence in China over the years. Together, these successes are driving an impressive—and growing—trade relationship. Since 2006, our two-way merchandise trade has grown an average of 6.3 percent each year, and more than tripled from $15 billion at the start of the decade to nearly $51 billion last year.
That makes China Canada’s second-largest trading partner, behind only the United States.
Our government is committed to building on this incredible progress.
When Canada hosted the G-20 Summit in Toronto in June, world leaders agreed that economic recovery depends on taking action—not just domestically, but internationally, too. President Hu and Prime Minister Harper agreed that deepening our economic relationship will be a top priority for our countries in the years ahead.
Our government is working closely with the Chinese government to boost trade and investment, and create new science and technology partnerships that will lead to jobs, prosperity and economic opportunities for Canadians and Chinese alike.
Our Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, centred on our west coast, is another focus. We’re drawing the attention of Chinese shippers to Canada as the best way to ship goods to and from North America and Asia—yet another avenue to engage our Chinese partners.
And we’re taking every opportunity to tell our Chinese partners and all our other trading partners about Canada’s many advantages as a trade and investment destination:
I had the opportunity to carry these messages directly to our Chinese partners during the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and in the spring when I visited the Canada Pavilion in Shanghai [at Expo 2010].
I can tell you that we’re seeing a lot of interest from China in everything Canada’s economy can offer.
As we make these trade and investment links, we’re counting on the support of our talented team of trade commissioners posted in key markets across China. This is one of the government’s most successful services. A recent study shows that exporters receiving assistance from the service enjoy 18 percent higher export values than comparable exporters that don’t use it.
Recognizing this, our government is committed to opening new offices in high-growth markets. That’s why Canada has opened more trade offices across China.
If you haven’t already, I urge you to contact our trade commissioners here in the Greater Toronto Area—they can put you in touch with our team “on the ground” in China.
Canada is also very excited about its Approved Destination Status—or ADS—with China, which was announced during Prime Minister Harper’s visit to China last year. We welcomed our first ADS group in Vancouver a few weeks ago.
This is a real milestone, and will help ensure that strong “people-to-people” ties—whether through tourism or business travel—remain an important ingredient in our partnership’s success in the years to come.
So, on many fronts, Canada’s partnership with China is growing and expanding. Partnerships like ours are critically important as the world works through these challenging economic times.
Our efforts with China reflect our government’s wider commitment to expand our trade links in other markets.
In fact, Canada is a leader in free trade, promoting investment and fighting protectionism. 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 America Four: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
We’ve also completed a joint study with India which we hope 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.
Through these initiatives—and our ongoing work with our Chinese partners—we’re keeping Canada’s economy on a winning track.
I look forward to discussing this with you today, and to exploring new ways to expand our business ties with China—and the rest of the world—into the future.