Address by Minister Van Loan to Brampton Board of Trade

No. 2010/37 - Brampton, Ontario - May 28, 2010

Check Against Delivery

It’s a great pleasure to be here in Brampton this morning. This city is one of the reasons why the Toronto area is considered among the most multicultural places on the continent. But over the years Brampton has also done an excellent job of building a thriving, globally minded business community.

Over 8,000 businesses call this city home. It’s been quite a journey over the decades—from bedroom community to growing business hub.

I encourage you to continue your efforts to put your community and its many advantages on the “business map,” so to speak. I also applaud your group’s efforts to help your businesses expand globally.

Your Ambassador Program is a great way to get Brampton’s businesses thinking about global opportunities. The seminars you’re offering this year for doing business in key parts of the world will undoubtedly inspire many of them to make the leap to exporting or investing abroad.

I hope your members are also aware of the support network the government offers to help them get there. If they haven’t already done so, I encourage them to contact the trade commissioner team in our Toronto regional office. Along with trade commissioners at our missions abroad, these individuals can help your businesses build more global links. The team includes people like Janice Vogtle, who is here with us today.

Janice is responsible for the Ontario region. She can point your members in the right direction, and help match them with global opportunities—including international investors who can help them grow, innovate and prosper.

Our trade commissioners also work closely with other groups within the business support network, including our partners in Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Strengthening Canada’s economy

We understand that when our businesses succeed, Canadians succeed—especially today, as we work toward a lasting economic recovery. While many countries struggled during the recession, Canada fared relatively well. We were the last G7 country to enter recession, and we’re well on our way to recovery.

But we’re not out of the woods yet. We need to continue creating the right environment for our businesses to succeed. Our government understands this. That’s why we’re putting such a strong focus on Canada’s Economic Action Plan—to create jobs, ease credit markets and help workers get back on their feet.

Over the medium term, we’re continuing to make good progress toward balancing the budget—well before any other G7 country, I might add. And we’re taking steps to ensure that Canada emerges from the downturn faster, and in better fiscal shape, than nearly every other industrialized country.

But in order to do this, we also need to expand our trade links abroad.

As a member of the North American free trade zone, Canada’s experience with free trade has been enormously positive.

Think of the jobs and prosperity supported by this relationship. The lesson is clear: open doors, rather than closed, protectionist doors, hold the key to long-term economic success. This approach guided our efforts with the United States to negotiate an exemption to the “Buy American” provisions in the U.S. Recovery Act [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act].

It’s also why Canada is continuing to eliminate tariffs on imported equipment and machinery, positioning us as the first tariff-free zone for manufacturing imports in the G20. Our manufacturers can now buy the machinery and equipment they need from other countries more easily, and thereby become more productive and competitive in the global marketplace.

Our government believes that a free and open approach to trade can help spur export activity and create opportunities for everybody.

With this in mind, Canada is moving forward on an ambitious free trade agenda to help Canadians compete—and win—in global markets.

Canada’s ambitious free trade agenda

Our achievements speak for themselves. Our free trade agreements with Peru and the European Free Trade Association are now in force. We recently introduced legislation in Parliament to implement our free trade agreements with Jordan and Colombia. And two weeks ago, I joined my Panamanian counterpart to sign the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement.

These are all important victories that will help Canadians working in a number of sectors succeed.

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, Singapore, Ukraine and the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. We’re working closely with India on a joint study that we hope will lead to a comprehensive economic partnership agreement. We also remain engaged with the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and are watching those negotiations with interest.

And we recently concluded the third round of negotiations with the European Union—the most significant Canadian trade initiative since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

This weekend, I’m heading to China and Japan to strengthen our economic and trade relations there. In Shanghai and Beijing, for example, I’ll be meeting with senior officials and business leaders to promote closer commercial ties.

In Japan, I’m going to take every opportunity to make the case for an economic partnership agreement—an initiative that would create new opportunities for both Canada and Japan.

I’ll also be attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Meeting in Sapporo [Japan]. As I do on every visit, I’ll take every opportunity to talk about the expertise that Canada offers in many different sectors.

Promoting Canada’s investment advantages

I’ll also be talking about Canada’s many investment advantages—including at an investors round table at the Shanghai World Expo.

Many bold and important initiatives were introduced by our government’s Economic Action Plan to strengthen the economy. Everywhere I go, business people and government officials tell me how impressed they are by Canada’s economic strength. The difficulties faced around the world during the global recession actually underscored for many people why Canada is such a great place to do business.

Canada has a lot to offer as an investment destination:

  • an open and attractive free-enterprise environment—the best place to do business in the G7, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit;
  • the strongest fiscal position in the G7;
  • a low corporate income tax rate, on track to being the lowest in the G7 by 2012;
  • the fastest predicted economic growth in the G7 over the next few years, according to the International Monetary Fund in 2010, 2011 and 2012;
  • a skilled workforce, with the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates among countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development;
  • a strong commitment to good governance and the rule of law;
  • a high quality of life; and
  • a vibrant environment for innovation, with one of the most generous research and development tax incentives in the developed world.

Our strong financial system is another core advantage.

Canada did not experience any bank failures. No major Canadian bank required a bailout.

Not many countries can say this.

Our banking sector is responsibly managed through balanced regulations.

While banks in other countries were making high-risk investments, Canadian banks were adhering to higher standards for investment and risk, as set out by our regulations. These regulations put our banks in a stronger position to weather the storm than many other banks around the world.

This makes us very attractive to foreign investors.

Our excellent performance is one reason why Canada does not support the introduction of a global financial levy or tax to pay for the bailouts used in other countries.

Why punish our financial sector for good performance?

We prefer to remain focused on the financial reforms agreed to by the G20 at the Pittsburgh Summit: to achieve high standards for capital, liquidity and leverage among global institutions.

I can tell you that this will be a core part of our message to the world, as Canada prepares to host the G8 and G20 summits in Huntsville and here in Toronto.

Conclusion

Indeed, these summits will cap an extraordinary year for Canada.

From our performance at the [2010 Vancouver] Olympics to our economic performance as we emerge from the recession, Canadians can be very proud of 2010, Canada’s year.

But we also think that our leadership in certain areas—such as our commitment to free trade and lower taxes—should attract the attention of a world looking for business opportunities.

These are all ingredients in a successful economy, as important as organizations like your own.

As we move further along the path toward economic recovery, let’s work together to keep the doors of opportunity open for Canadians around the world.

Let’s create the jobs and prosperity future generations will need to make Canada an example to the world of the power of free enterprise and free trade.

Thank you.