Address by Minister Van Loan at Friends of Canada Symposium

No. 2010/41 - Tokyo, Japan - June 7, 2010

Check Against Delivery

It’s a great pleasure to join you here today for the first-ever Friends of Canada Symposium.

Japan is home to a number of commercial and social organizations dedicated to closer relations with Canada.

This event, which brings these groups together, is a great reflection of the many ties Canada and Japan share, such as our diplomatic ties. Last July, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of those diplomatic ties during a visit to Canada by Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Our ties of family, friendship and culture are made stronger each year by the enormous contributions of Japanese Canadians to Canada’s rich heritage.

And, certainly, our ties of commerce are growing as we cooperate in the areas of trade, investment and innovation.

As Canada’s Minister of International Trade, I see great potential in building closer business relationships in the years ahead.

After all, Japan is one of the world’s largest economies. It’s responsible for a larger share of global gross domestic product than other powerhouse economies, such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

The world has come to recognize Japan’s sophisticated high-tech economy, mature financial markets and huge consumer base.

All Japanese people can be very proud of their country’s influence and position on the world stage.

But we also think that Canada is a great partner for Japan.

Canada is a trade and investment partner that offers:

  • 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;
  • low corporate taxes—on track to being the lowest in the G-7 by 2012;
  • the fastest predicted economic growth in the G-7 in the next few years, according to the International Monetary Fund;
  • a skilled workforce, with the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates among countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development;
  • a vibrant environment for innovation, with some of the most generous research and development tax incentives in the developed world;
  • a strong commitment to good governance and the rule of law; and
  • a high quality of life.

Canada is also eliminating all tariffs on imported equipment and machinery, and we’re poised to become the first “tariff-free zone” for manufacturing imports in the G-20.

Canada’s banking system is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world. Despite the global economic downturn, Canada did not experience any bank failures, and no bailouts were required.

I’m pleased to note that our countries have already made much progress in deepening our commercial collaboration in many areas.

In fact, Japan is Canada’s second-largest partner in Asia in terms of merchandise trade. From an investment perspective, Japan is Canada’s largest bilateral partner in Asia.

We have a strong contingent of Canadian companies in Japan. And we have many Japanese companies taking advantage of Canada’s great business environment.

Our team of trade commissioners posted across Japan is doing a great job of creating more connections between our countries.

Nevertheless, we think we can do a lot more, which is why I’m here this week.

In addition to attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Sapporo, I’m taking every opportunity to meet with Japanese officials and business leaders to call for closer trade and investment ties in the years ahead.

This includes making the case for an economic partnership agreement between our countries. We think that Canada should be at the top of the list for Japan’s future trade negotiations. The potential for creating prosperity for our citizens is enormous for both sides.

A study found that eliminating trade tariffs would bring Japan economic benefits worth almost $6.3 billion and boost Japanese exports by $1.9 billion.

It would help businesses in Canada and Japan create more opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.

But an agreement would go far beyond imports and exports. For example, it would involve new partnerships in science and technology and innovation, especially in areas such as clean technology, life sciences and energy.

It would help Japanese investors strengthen their operations in North America. And it would help Canadian businesses do the same on this side of the Pacific.

Canada believes that these uncertain economic times call for more trade and investment. They call for closer global partnerships.

I can tell you that this message of trade and economic cooperation will be front and centre when Canada hosts the world at the upcoming G-8 and G-20 summits. We will tell the world that free trade, not protectionism, holds the key to global economic recovery.

And we certainly think that there’s great potential in the Canada-Japan relationship to create jobs and prosperity for both countries.

The people here today have a role to play, too.

We’re counting on your continued efforts, as leaders in your respective communities, to build awareness about Canada and the benefits of closer ties.

So as we celebrate the many ties that bind Canada and Japan, let’s also look forward to the future, and to a closer economic partnership that will benefit both countries in the years ahead.

Let’s build on our long history of friendship.

And let’s begin the next chapter in Canada-Japan relations.

Thank you.