No. 2011/25 - Asunción, Paraguay - June 24, 2011
Check Against Delivery
It is a great pleasure to join Paraguay’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Francisco Rivas, to open today’s seminar.
Our countries enjoy a strong trading relationship. Canada’s markets are very open to products from around the world—including from Paraguay.
We understand the importance of exports to Paraguay’s economy. And the establishment of a Canada-Paraguay Chamber of Commerce last year is a very encouraging sign for the future of our partnership.
I look forward to working with you in the time ahead to build on this partnership—including through this event.
I’d like to especially thank Brian Northgrave—an expert from the Trade Facilitation Office of Canada—for being here with us, and Rio Tinto Alcan for its support as well.
I’d also like to thank [Oscar Stark] Robledo of REDIEX, and the Canadian Embassy in Buenos Aires for organizing today’s event.
This is, in fact, my first official foreign visit as Canada’s Minister of International Trade. I can’t think of a better place to start than Paraguay.
This country’s growth prospects reached over 15 percent last year—the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean.
That’s a great performance—one in which all Paraguayans can take pride.
However, economic success is just one of many essential elements in building a stronger Paraguay for the future.
As we’ve seen in many economies both in the region and throughout the world, a vibrant private sector combined with a public sector that can balance growth with social-development goals is absolutely essential.
Trade is an important part of this.
Like Paraguay, Canada is a proud trading nation.
In both countries, jobs, families and communities depend on companies like your own reaching beyond your borders for opportunities.
They also depend on our governments cooperating to keep our borders free of unnecessary barriers and open to increased trade.
While our current trade levels are quite modest, we’re confident that we’ll be seeing new opportunities across a number of sectors in the future.
Canadian companies are also considering some major investments here in Paraguay.
Part of my mission here is to learn more about investment prospects in Paraguay, so we can share this news with other Canadian companies who may have an interest.
The recipe for economic growth is clear.
It requires a dynamic private sector that is committed to seeking out new export markets. And it requires governments being open to foreign investment and reducing import barriers.
That’s why, during this visit, I’m taking every opportunity to tell business and government leaders about what Canada can offer Paraguay in many different sectors.
When it comes to construction, engineering, infrastructure and high technology, Canada has a lot to offer.
I know that your government is looking to meet a number of infrastructure needs here in Paraguay, and it is looking to the private sector for help with these projects.
Canadian firms can help. In fact, Canada is the fourth most important exporter of engineering services in the world.
This is a good example of how Canada can play a role in Paraguay’s future.
But we are also interested in opportunities going the other way.
I understand that most of you are small and medium-sized enterprises with some exporting capacity. Your products would find a welcome home in Canada.
We’re a prosperous, diverse market of 34 million people. We’re also part of the North American family of nations, with easy transportation access to our partners in the United States and Mexico.
We offer low business taxes, an innovative workforce and an excellent economic growth forecast. And we have a strong track record of doing business with people from across Latin America and the Caribbean.
My message to you today is simple—Canada wants to take a more important role as a commercial partner for Paraguay.
We want to encourage you to enter our markets. And we want to encourage our companies to consider investing here in Paraguay.
Over the course of the day, you’ll get the advice you need on how to break into the Canadian market.
You will also hear from individual exporters that are already doing business in Canada.
So please take advantage of today’s seminar, and all of the advice you receive.
Paraguay’s economy—indeed, the global economy—is depending on businesses like your own to reach out and seek new opportunities in the markets of the world.