Address by Minister Van Loan to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Round Table

No. 2010/67 - Ottawa, Ontario - September 15, 2010

Check Against Delivery

Good morning. I look forward to our discussion today.

Over the decades, your organization has played a number of critical roles in the development of Canada’s economy—not only in representing our exporters and manufacturing industry, not only in your members’ contributions to Canada’s economy, but also in your efforts to help formulate and advance Canada’s trade policy objectives over the years.

From the North American Free Trade Agreement, to the several trade agreements our government has concluded over the last few years, to our ongoing trade initiatives with big players like the European Union and India, to our efforts to combat the Buy American situation—we simply couldn’t have done it without your advice and support.

Canadians appreciate your efforts, too.

As a trading nation, Canadian jobs and prosperity—present and future—depend on our exporters seeking out new opportunities beyond our borders.

Manufacturing is a critical component of our domestic economy, providing jobs and opportunities for people across the country—more often than not, in small and medium-sized firms.

The CME also contributes to our success as a trading nation, with manufactured products representing about 65 percent of our merchandise exports around the world.

In short, Canada’s economy, trade and jobs across the country depend on the success of your members—especially today, as our economy continues on the path to lasting recovery in the years ahead.

Canada leading the recovery

In fact, our 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 for the coming years—something to which Canada has long been committed.

Leaders 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.

On all fronts, Canada has been a leader.

Through our economic action plan, we’re taking steps to ensure that Canada emerges from the downturn stronger and in better fiscal shape than nearly every other industrialized country.

And we’re taking every opportunity to tell potential investors why Canada is such a great place in which to do business:

  • our open and attractive free-enterprise environment ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the best place in which 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 by 2012;
  • the fastest economic growth in the G-7 this year, according to both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);
  • a unique position in the North American marketplace of 448 million consumers;
  • a skilled workforce, with one of the highest proportions of post-secondary graduates among countries of the OECD;
  • 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.

Canada’s free trade leadership

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

Look at how we announced the unilateral elimination of all tariffs on imported manufacturing inputs, equipment and machinery, making Canada the first tariff-free zone for manufacturers in the G-20.

More importantly, that will help our manufacturers become more competitive, by making it easier to get the inputs they need from around the world—and at a better price.

Look also at our ambitious agenda of free trade negotiations.

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

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

And we’re not stopping there.

We are now engaged in free trade negotiations with the Caribbean Community, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Korea and Ukraine, as well as countries in Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

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

At the same time, we are 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.

Trade Commissioner Service

We’re supporting Canadian businesses in other ways, too.

Look at our Trade Commissioner Service—one of the government’s most successful services.

Our trade commissioners are out there, each and every day, making trade, investment and innovation links with our global partners, and supporting thousands of Canadian companies of all sizes.

They’re enormously effective. In fact, 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.

That’s why we’ve 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 effort.

Grant Manuge of my department will provide you with more details on our services and on how our business is changing to meet your needs.

I look forward to hearing your views on this important service.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, an aggressive approach to trade is a core part of our strategy to help Canada’s economy recover and grow in the years ahead.

We are committed to helping our manufacturers compete and win in the markets of the world.

And we’ll continue listening to your advice as we move through this extraordinary period in Canada’s economic history—and we’ll do so as partners.

I look forward to our discussion today.

Thank you.