Address by Minister Van Loan to Toronto Board of Trade

No. 2010/66 - Scarborough, Ontario - September 14, 2010

Check Against Delivery

Good morning, and thank you for that kind introduction.

And thank you to the Toronto Board of Trade for the opportunity to address the Scarborough and North York business community.

Your members play an important role in our economy.

As businesses and investors you are a valuable source of expertise and advice for government policies at all levels.

Canada’s economy, trade and jobs across the country depend on your members’ success—especially today, as we emerge from the global economic crisis toward recovery.

Our government is committed to helping your businesses succeed, both here at home and in the markets of the world.

It’s a real team effort, and our government looks forward to continuing to work closely with you to strengthen Toronto’s economy—and indeed, Canada’s economy—in the years ahead.

Canada leading the recovery

Our government’s approach to economic recovery closely matches the goals set out by world leaders during the G-20 Summit here in Toronto in June.

At the summit, leaders established firm debt-reduction targets in the coming years—something to which our government is firmly committed.

They also underscored their commitment to reforming international monetary institutions.

And they agreed that targeted and timely stimulus is needed, as well as deficit-reduction measures.

What better place than Canada to have these discussions!

Just look at what we’ve accomplished together since the recession.

Year two of Canada’s Economic Action Plan included measures to maintain and create jobs, reduce taxes, build infrastructure and invest in skills and training for long-term prosperity.

The government set out a three-point plan to bring the budget back to balance.

This plan includes following through on an exit strategy that will limit the growth of program spending and review government administrative costs.

Our deficit is projected to decline by about one half between 2009-10 and 2011-12, and to be virtually eliminated by 2014-15.

The International Monetary Fund expects that Canada will be the only G-7 country to return to balanced budgets within the next six years.

And we’re taking steps to ensure that Canada emerges from the downturn stronger and in better fiscal shape than nearly every other industrialized country.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to tell leaders around the world—from business and government alike—why Canada is such a great place to do business.

It might not be “Canadian” to brag—but maybe it should be.

After all, Canada has a lot to be proud of:

  • 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 corporate income tax rate in the G-7 in 2012;
  • the fastest economic growth in the G-7, according to both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development [OECD];
  • a skilled workforce, with one of the highest proportions of post-secondary graduates among OECD countries;
  • a vibrant environment for innovation, with one of the most advantageous research and development tax incentive programs in the industrialized world;
  • a strong commitment to good governance and the rule of law; and
  • a high quality of life.

Another key to Canada’s economic success is our commitment to free trade.

And here again, Canada is showing the world how it’s done.

Canada’s free trade leadership

For instance, we unilaterally eliminated all tariffs on imported manufacturing inputs, equipment and machinery, positioning Canada as the first tariff-free zone for manufacturers in the G-20.

This will help Canadian manufacturers become more competitive, by making it easier for them to get the inputs they need from around the world. 

Look also at our success in resolving the “Buy American” issue with the United States. 

From the very start, we took every opportunity to get our message out there that “Buy American” wasn’t just hurting Canadians—it was hurting Americans, too.

Working together with businesses and stakeholders on both sides of the border, we were able to successfully negotiate a waiver of the “Buy American” provisions in the U.S. stimulus package, and keep trade and investment flowing between our countries to stimulate job growth and economic recovery.

Our government is not just talking about free trade. We are moving forward on an aggressive free trade agenda that includes ambitious free trade negotiations in key global markets.

We are proud of our free trade track record.

In less than four years, we’ve concluded new free trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, Jordan, Panama and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

These are significant victories for Canadian businesses, which can now expand into these markets more easily, with more competitive terms of access than ever before.

And 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.

And we are moving forward to our fifth round of trade negotiations with the European Union, part of the most significant Canadian trade initiative since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

At the same time, we’re in exploratory discussions on a comprehensive economic partnership with India—one of the world’s largest economies.

I’ll be working closely with my officials—and our partners around the world—to bring these negotiations to a conclusion and create new trade opportunities for Canada in the years ahead.

The Government of Canada is supporting Canadian businesses in other ways, too.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service is one of the government’s most successful services.

We’re joined today by a number of our trade commissioners from our regional office here in Toronto.

Our trade commissioners, across Canada and in offices around the world, are trade, investment and innovation links to our global partners.

They represent virtually every sector, and are ready to meet with companies, offer a range of advice and assistance, and help Canadian businesses build their business plans and expand into global markets.

They’re enormously effective.

In fact, a recent study shows that exporters receiving assistance from the Trade Commissioner Service enjoy 18 percent higher export values than businesses that don’t use it.

That’s why our government opened new trade offices in high-growth markets like Brazil, China and India.

We want businesses—like the ones you represent—to have every competitive advantage in world markets.

Our trade commissioners are an important part of that.

Making the case for freer trade

These are exciting times for Canada.

Our government is committed to opening markets for Canadian businesses, and our trade commissioners are committed to helping Canadian businesses succeed in these markets. 

But we need the broad support of Canada’s business community to implement our aggressive free trade agenda.

I think we all remember the voices from the fringe that opposed free trade with the United States—even North American free trade.

And yet, history has shown that the North American Free Trade Agreement has been overwhelmingly positive for Canada.

History has shown that the debate is over.

Free trade creates opportunities, jobs and prosperity.

That’s why we’re counting on the support of Canada’s business community for our efforts to create more free trade links with our partners around the world.

We need you to talk to all levels of government to help us build this support—including your partners in the municipalities and in the provincial government. 

Let’s work together to create more jobs and opportunities through free trade in the years ahead.

Our efforts will result in a stronger and sustainable economy for our provinces, our cities and our communities.

Thank you.