Address by Minister Van Loan to Canadian Turkish Business Council

No. 2010/83 - Toronto, Ontario - October 22, 2010

Check Against Delivery

I’d like to start by welcoming Zafer Çaglayan, Turkey’s minister of state responsible for foreign trade, to Canada and to the great city of Toronto.

I look forward to hearing his perspective on the future of Canada’s commercial ties with Turkey.

The people in this room are an important part of this relationship.

Since 2002, the Canadian Turkish Business Council has been a strong and active voice for closer trade, investment and business ties between our countries.

Your members have long drawn attention to Turkey’s importance in the global economy as a founding member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] and the G-20, as a dynamic market of 72 million people, and as a gateway to trade and investment with Europe and Asia.

Canadians have also long admired Turkey’s many efforts to foster peace and stability in the region.

We’re close allies in Afghanistan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Canada also applauds the many economic reforms we’ve seen in Turkey in recent years, which prove the power of opening up economies to global trade and investment.

Turkey’s financial stability throughout the recent recession is yet another attraction.

As in Canada, not a single Turkish bank failed, and no bailouts were required.

This kind of stability has long drawn the attention of the world, Canada included.

Canada-Turkey trade

For years, Canadian companies have sought opportunities in Turkey.

Today, there are Canadian firms bidding on major infrastructure, mining and energy projects across Turkey.

This kind of activity is driving a strong trade performance.

Our merchandise exports to Turkey reached a record $1.2 billion in 2008—a great performance that is helping to keep our economies strong.

And Canada remains a significant buyer of Turkish merchandise, purchasing about $632-million worth last year.

Our government has taken steps to build on the relationship, such as the negotiation of agreements on air transport and double taxation.

But we also clearly see the need to take more steps forward in our partnership.

Deepening the partnership

Our trade commissioners in Turkey, for example, are focused on making more connections between Canadian expertise and Turkish demand.

Last year, our embassy in Turkey, in partnership with your Council, organized a Canadian trade mission to the country.

It was a great success, with many Canadian businesses joining the mission, showcasing what they can offer Turkish partners.

I want to keep the momentum going.

Which is why I’m pleased to announce today that I’ll be leading a delegation of Canadian businesses to Turkey this December.

I hope as many of you as possible can join me on this mission.

The fact is Canada can offer a lot to our Turkish partners, in many key sectors.

Energy is a good example.

Over the years, Canada has built up considerable expertise in all forms of energy, from oil and gas to nuclear and green technologies.

Canada is also home to a number of world-leading high-tech companies, including Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry.

From transportation to mining, tourism and infrastructure, Canada can offer a lot.

Export Development Canada [EDC] has identified Turkey as a strategic market of opportunity for Canadian firms, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada officials are committed to working with EDC to help Canadian businesses succeed there.

We’re also taking every opportunity to tell our partners in Turkey about Canada’s many advantages as a business destination.

These include:

  • an open and attractive free-enterprise environment, ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the best place to do business in the G-7 this year and over the next four years;
  • the strongest fiscal position in the G-7;
  • the lowest corporate taxes on new business investment within the G-7;
  • one of the fastest rates of economic growth in 2010 and 2011, as predicted by the International Monetary Fund;
  • our position as the first tariff-free zone in the G-20 for manufacturing imports;
  • a skilled workforce, with the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates among OECD countries;
  • a high quality of life;
  • a vibrant environment for innovation, with one of the most advantageous research and development tax incentive programs in the industrialized world; and
  • a strong commitment to good governance and the rule of law.

But perhaps the most significant opportunity for Canada-Turkey trade relations is the potential of free trade negotiations.

Building the case for free trade

Businesses in both countries have long called for closer commercial ties through free trade.

As you may know, our government has an aggressive agenda of trade negotiations in place.

Over the last four years, we’ve negotiated new trade agreements with eight countries, and have ongoing negotiations with about 50 others.

These include negotiations with the European Union toward a comprehensive economic and trade agreement—Canada’s most significant trade initiative since North American free trade.

We see our partnership with Turkey as a great opportunity to create jobs and prosperity through increased trade and investment between our two countries.

We think an ambitious free trade agreement with Turkey covering market access for goods, services, investment and government procurement would be a victory for both sides, especially as our countries continue on the path to lasting economic recovery.

We held exploratory talks earlier this month in Ankara.

But negotiators can’t do it alone.

That’s why Canada has initiated public consultations to seek the views of Canadians and the business community on this issue.

I encourage you to make your views known through the consultations section of our Trade Negotiations and Agreements web page.

Active support from businesspeople in both countries is critical.

That’s where the people in this room come in.

Conclusion

We’re counting on your support to get behind these negotiations, and help make the case for them in your contacts with one another and with the various levels of government.

Over the years, our two countries have developed a strong, wide-ranging partnership in many areas.

The time has come to take the next step.

Let’s work together to build on past successes, and create new opportunities and jobs for people in Canada and Turkey alike.

Thank you.