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Address by Minister Van Loan at Financial Times Global Investment Series: Focus on Canada Event

No. 2011/3 - New York City, New York - February 3, 2011

Check Against Delivery

It’s a pleasure to be here today to help kick off today’s event.

Today, you have the opportunity to learn what many businesses and investors around the world have also discovered: Canada is the strategic partner and investment destination of choice for global business.

Our government is committed to continuing to implement our low tax plan for job creators and entrepreneurs, which, combined with our other efforts focused on economic growth, has added to the many competitive advantages that Canada offers:

  • the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment among the major developed economies;
  • the lowest debt and deficit of those major economies;
  • the world’s soundest banking system, according to the World Economic Forum;
  • the fastest economic growth in the G-7—projected to continue into the future—according to the International Monetary Fund;
  • the most generous research and development tax incentives in the industrialized world; and
  • an outstanding quality of life, with safe streets, a high standard of living, universal health care, a sound education system and a beautiful natural environment.

At this time of global economic recovery, these competitive advantages offer unprecedented opportunities for global investors.

You may be surprised to hear about these strategic advantages just north of the U.S. border.

That is partly why I am here today at the first of seven similar events we will be holding across the United States, and why I have in recent weeks also travelled to Orlando, Florida, and Washington, D.C.

My job as Canada’s international trade minister is to make sure that your perceptions reflect the reality of Canada today.

Canada has emerged as an economic leader.

When the global recession hit, Canada was best positioned to weather the economic storm.

Through our Economic Action Plan, our government continues to focus on economic recovery, jobs and growth. We are also making sure that Canada emerges from the global economic downturn in better shape than nearly every other major economy.

Our Economic Action Plan has helped create close to 400,000 jobs since July 2009—the strongest job growth in the G-7—and the economy has grown for five straight quarters.

That is why we are committed to promoting Canada’s success story to our partners.

Canada’s most significant advantage and our richest resource is our people.

We lead the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in terms of the proportion of post-secondary graduates in the workforce.

This has helped us build one of the most innovative economies in the world.

From information and communications technology to gaming and animation, Canadian companies across the country have built a solid reputation for high-tech innovation and excellence.

Canada is home to over 31,000 information and communications technology firms, which generated about $155 billion in revenues in 2008.

Look at the BlackBerry, a Canadian product, created by Research in Motion [Limited] of Waterloo, Ontario.

Canadians have shown, time and again, a commitment to pushing the boundaries of technology through research and development.

If U.S. companies are looking for a highly educated population that can help take their innovative products to the next level, they should be looking to Canada.

In short, Canada is one of the most welcoming places in the world in which to invest, create, work and live.

Canada’s free trade leadership is another part of our success story.

Our government firmly believes that protectionist tendencies are one of the greatest threats to economic recovery, in Canada and around the world.

We are committed to a broad and ambitious free trade agenda that is opening new markets and creating opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers.

Over the last five years, we’ve concluded free trade agreements with eight new countries: Colombia, Peru, Jordan, Panama and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

And we’re continuing trade negotiations with close to 50 countries.

That includes trade negotiations with the European Union, the world’s wealthiest market. At the conclusion of these negotiations, Canada will be the first major economy to have a trade agreement with the European Union.

While we are engaging some of the most developed economies in the world, we are also focused on expanding our trade relations with emerging economies as well.

Last November, I was in India, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world today.

Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Singh announced the start of free trade negotiations during the G-20 Summit in Seoul this past fall.

Our government is also carving out a trade leadership role in South America.

In addition to the free trade agreements we have already signed, we are in discussions to expand Canada’s first-generation free trade agreements with Chile and Costa Rica.

And just last week, I joined our prime minister, Stephen Harper, in Morocco to launch free trade negotiations with that country—our first with an African nation.

What you should take away from this is an image of Canada as a leading modern economy with an attractive environment for business and as a gateway to the world.

These are reasons that Canada matters to businesses around the world, and especially to our partners in the United States.

The Canada-U.S. trade relationship is the strongest in the world.

Canada is the top merchandise-export destination for 34 U.S. states.

We bought over four times more merchandise from the United States than from China.

Even in the midst of the global economic downturn, US$1.4 billion [C$1.6 billion] in trade crossed our border every day in 2009.

Our economies are integrated to an unprecedented degree.

We are not only trade partners; we are also making things together for the global marketplace.

We are innovating together, investing in each other’s markets and collaborating on products that are sold all over the world.

Canadian companies have a big stake in the U.S. economy and a key role to play as the United States continues to recover.

And U.S. companies looking for stability and opportunity in a turbulent global economy can’t afford to pass on what Canada offers.

Canada welcomes foreign investment, recognizing its significant benefits, such as new ideas, innovations, jobs and sources of capital.

We offer an open, welcoming, free-enterprise environment.

And we have an innovative and educated workforce that can help companies reach their goals.

You’ll be hearing a lot about these advantages today.

By session’s end, I believe the message will be loud and clear: global investors and businesses looking for value, low taxes, opportunity, innovation and stability need look no farther than to North America’s North.

Canada, the true north strong and free: we’re open for business.

Thank you.