Canada’s Plan for a Shifting Centre of Gravity - Address by the the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade, at the Toronto Region Board of Trade

Speech

November 30, 2017 - Toronto, Ontario

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

Thank you for that very warm welcome.

It’s a great pleasure to be here.

Everyone here knows that trade is critical to our current and future prosperity, so I am here to talk about our plan to grow our economy, create jobs and level the playing the field so that every worker, producer, farmer, fisher, entrepreneur and investor­—both women and men—can compete and win on the world stage.

Everyone here also knows that there is no better place to do business than Canada.

We are beacons of stability and predictability at a time when businesses are clamouring to invest.

As the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism, we have shown time and time again that a country can be stronger not in spite of its differences, but because of them.

Diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. Canada has made its decision and our cities have become windows to the world.

We believe in building a clean-growth economy that is as inclusive as it is innovative.

We have simplified our business-support programs and designed strategic funds to spur innovation and support high-quality business investments.

Our world-class colleges and universities have graduated the most highly educated workforce within the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation].

In the new economy, we recognize that we must have access to the best talent in the world, wherever it is.

Canada is the second-best country in the G-20 to do business, according to Forbes Magazine, with the lowest overall business costs in the G-7, underpinned by the soundest banking and legal systems in the world.

Trade is in our DNA. Canadians may be just 0.5% of the world’s population but we represent 2.5% of global trade. 

A remarkable two thirds of our gross national product is attributable to exports and imports. 

It is no exaggeration to say our country’s current economic prosperity depends on trade.

But to ensure our future prosperity, we must reorient ourselves and our approach.

Not since WWII has there been a more opportune time—a more critical time—for Canada to show leadership.

I believe we must all embrace the imperative of diversification and that we will only be truly successful in that endeavour if we pursue it with a more progressive trade agenda.

Now is our time.

This is about job quality. This is about opening and unleashing all of our talent so that people working hard can compete and win in the sectors of tomorrow.

This is, after all, about people.

I will explain our government’s approach to securing new opportunities, but first a word on NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement]. My colleague Chrystia Freeland is leading those negotiations and has been very clear: we will defend and maintain the elements of NAFTA that Canadians know are essential to our national interest.

We will always defend Canada’s national interest and Canadian values, and continue to work hard and constructively for a modernized NAFTA.

I suspect most of you have been pressed into service as well because you understand the vital link between being globally competitive in markets and our quality of life at home.

Before I get to where’s next, let me explain why we believe a progressive trade agenda is so critical. Let me explain why now, more than ever, we need to be thinking about social licence.

As Prime Minister Trudeau has said, we can’t do trade exactly the same way it was done a quarter century ago. 

Too many groups, particularly women, indigenous peoples, youth and newcomers have not shared in the spinoffs that have come from free trade. 

Workers, mom and pop shops, young entrepreneurs creating a product for sale online, fishers and farmers—all need to see their future in trade and to see government working hard to protect them.

As a government, we believe in levelling the playing field for them so they can compete and win too.

We need the smallest of entrepreneurs to be capable of taking that first step into markets abroad. We need everyone to have the confidence to do so.

That is why we must ensure the benefits of trade extend to the middle class—not just the wealthiest few—and why we must protect and enhance the rules-based system we helped build and on which we have relied for our prosperity. 

We can improve the chances of success by including appropriate progressive elements in trade agreements. We must put people first.

It is why I was proud to be the first trade minister to introduce the first gender chapter in a trade agreement for any G-20 country (with Chile) and why we have stated clearly and unequivocally that progressive trade is the only way forward.

We cannot and will not dismiss entire parts of our economy—entire groups of people! Our diversity is what gives our economy its might.

And remember, we are the ones who helped write the rules that govern trade and we are the ones who can ensure they are updated and rewritten to ensure our future prosperity.

So now let me tell you a little more about what I mean when I say now is our time and where we should diversify.

And we start that journey from a remarkable position of strength.

With CETA [Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement] now in force—easing trade with the EU—and with the modernization of NAFTA underway, our country today has preferential access to 1.2 billion consumers in the most lucrative markets in the world.

Our fishers are loading entire planeloads of lobster for export. Our beef and pork, canola and lumber are now being exported without tariffs. And our companies now operate as though we were physically in the EU.

In CETA, we have created a new, gold-standard agreement that will serve as a model for reinvigorated and renewed trading relationships the world over.

Where’s next?

The global economic centre of gravity is moving from west to east.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region are quickly emerging as new economic powerhouses for trade and investment.

Asia’s share of global GDP now exceeds that of the EU and that of the United States, and it contributes more than 50% of global growth.

Asia is home to over half of the world’s population, increasingly affluent and mobile, and Canada recognizes the opportunities this offers in terms of trade, education and tourism.

Today, Asia-Pacific more broadly represents an important platform for Canadian companies.

Four of Canada’s top five trading partners, including China at number 2 (!), are APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] members.

Increasing trade and investment with our partners in the region is essential if we are to create long-term growth and an economy that works for the middle class.        

Indeed, this is a region where a new middle class is emerging and it already numbers in the hundreds of millions.

That leads to a demand for more products but also a demand for a better quality of life.

Remember those lobsters? Well, they sold out in eight minutes on Alibaba. Planes landing with quality products and generating top dollar for Canadian fishers and producers.

To take advantage of this opportunity, we are pounding the pavement and flying into the sky to secure first-mover advantage on our terms and to level the playing field for hard-working Canadians.

That is why I was so proud to have just launched exploratory talks toward a possible future FTA [free trade agreement] with ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations].      

ASEAN represents about 640 million people, or a market about twice as large as in the United States. 

Together, ASEAN nations actually represent Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner, so we’ve ramped up our engagement with ambassadors now in every ASEAN country and have one permanently dedicated to ASEAN itself.

Canada is also working very hard to expand its trade and investment relations throughout the Pacific.

We are, after all, a Pacific nation.

With respect to Japan, our government has recently made some real progress toward what is now an emerging and potentially more lucrative and more viable agreement for Canadians to access this market.

Core elements were agreed, including that environment and labour rights will form crucial pillars of the new Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, and be subject to dispute-settlement mechanisms.

We have also identified pathways to work on a number of outstanding issues for Canadians and will redouble efforts with stakeholders to make sure we look out for their interests during that process. 

Trade should be a march to the top, not a race to the bottom.

Now is the time to see the entire chessboard and protect every piece and see every move so we are positioned for success in not just five years’ time, but in 20 and 50 years as well.

In India, we must match the historical, cultural and people-to-people ties we have in abundance with more trade and investment.

Our bilateral trade today stands at $8 billion. I think we can do much better. 

That is why Minister Bains, Minister Garneau and I undertook one of the largest trade missions in our history just two weeks ago across five cities in India.

A 150-plus strong business delegation made a visible case for doing more and the benefits that can be reaped by both sides through more investment.

I also pressed for action on the long-stalled FIPA [foreign investment promotion and protection agreements] and CEPA because we need these frameworks to ensure our success and, frankly, to deal with issues.

I know that the issue of pulse shipments has caused great concern.

We’ve had some success with short-term extensions and have a good plan to secure the long term in meeting India’s food-security needs. 

I’ve reminded my counterparts on multiple occasions that this approach does not help their reputation as a commercial partner. Farmers will rotate their crops and move on.

Together with Minister MacAulay, we have raised the issue regularly and often.

On the Pacific side of South America, we have secured a pathway to enhanced membership status with the Pacific Alliance, a union of Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile.

North and south, east and west, Canada is securing better terms for trade, locking in crucial progressive ambitions on gender, for workers and for the environment, and we are making real headway.

Now some of you will have heard recent speculation about Canada’s relationship with the world’s second-largest economy, China.

We are still carefully weighing the challenges and opportunities, but I’d like to give you a window into the discussions we are having now.

While we do not agree on every issue, engagement with this permanent UNSC [United Nations Security Council] member on Arctic, defence (North Korea, SCS [South China Sea]), African development, stability in the region, peacebuilding and climate change is not only desirable, it is imperative.

When Canada engages the world, when it builds and deepens its relationships, we can all capitalize not only in terms of dollars and cents, but in the raising of standards that comes from engaging with our country.

Canada has always set a bar and has always sought to move the dial for human progress through engagement.

As we consider next steps—and I will be joining the Prime Minister on the trip this weekend—we must also see Canada for what it is today: a G-7 country, a principal architect of the world’s multilateral organizations, a determined peacebuilder and a beacon of stability and predictability.

We are not just 35 million people, but a market at the centre of East and West, with preferential access already—with CETA and NAFTA—to the world’s most lucrative consumer markets of 1.2 billion individuals.

The challenge we face is how best to position Canada to be in an even stronger position over the longer term.

From an economic point of view, let us be clear about what is at stake for our middle class.

Today there is over $90 billion in annual bilateral trade between Canada and China, and that is poised to double again—and again—by 2025. 

That’s one billion consumers rapidly growing in prosperity and the demand for the quality products that comes with it.

With so much untapped potential—for both sides—still remaining, we are looking at whether a framework whereby issues can be addressed and where the rule of law is paramount is better than the ad hoc approach favoured by the previous government.

We are looking at whether and how to provide the tools and protections necessary so that our smaller and medium-sized companies can compete and win so we can level the playing field.

And we are already trading with China.

As an example, cranberries from the Maritimes are going gangbusters in China. We should be making that happen for every producer in every part of the country!

Nine out of 13 provinces and territories currently have China as their top five export market and of these, six now have China as their number two trading partner.

The “short-termism” of the Harper years has too many costs: when it comes to access for hardworking Canadians to be successful, protections for our workers or the defence and promotion of our values, relationships matter.

We have been holding exploratory talks and fostering ongoing stakeholder engagement and we have learned from those who have gone before us, like Australia.

We have been clear from the start with our Chinese friends, throughout exploratory talks, that should we move forward, this will take time. 

Time that we will use to understand the needs and concerns of Canadian workers and families.

When it comes to trade, Canadians expect us to be resolute and steadfast in the promotion of our values abroad and in preserving and protecting our national security—all while growing our economy for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

We must see the entire chessboard and plan our moves accordingly.

As minister of international trade, I have been thinking about and focusing a lot on Asia.

Of course, there is a lot of work to do and it will take time to get right.

It will take time to deliver a comprehensive approach to the Pacific—the entire chessboard!

In order to succeed, we must stand together in our pursuit of progressive trade.

Let’s seize every opportunity. Let’s be ambitious. Let’s make trade real for people. 

The global economic centre of gravity is moving from west to east.

Markets in the Asia-Pacific region are quickly emerging as new economic powerhouses for trade and investment.

Asia’s share of global GDP now exceeds that of the EU and that of the United States, and it contributes more than 50% of global growth.

Asia is home to over half of the world’s population, increasingly affluent and mobile, and Canada recognizes the opportunities this offers in terms of trade, education and tourism.

Today, Asia-Pacific more broadly represents an important platform for Canadian companies.

Four of Canada’s top five trading partners, including China at number 2 (!), are APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] members.

Increasing trade and investment with our partners in the region is essential if we are to create long-term growth and an economy that works for the middle class.        

Indeed, this is a region where a new middle class is emerging and it already numbers in the hundreds of millions.

That leads to a demand for more products but also a demand for a better quality of life.

Remember those lobsters? Well, they sold out in eight minutes on Alibaba. Planes landing with quality products and generating top dollar for Canadian fishers and producers.

To take advantage of this opportunity, we are pounding the pavement and flying into the sky to secure first-mover advantage on our terms and to level the playing field for hard-working Canadians.

That is why I was so proud to have just launched exploratory talks toward a possible future FTA [free trade agreement] with ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations].      

ASEAN represents about 640 million people, or a market about twice as large as in the United States. 

Together, ASEAN nations actually represent Canada’s sixth-largest trading partner, so we’ve ramped up our engagement with ambassadors now in every ASEAN country and have one permanently dedicated to ASEAN itself.

Canada is also working very hard to expand its trade and investment relations throughout the Pacific.

We are, after all, a Pacific nation.

With respect to Japan, our government has recently made some real progress toward what is now an emerging and potentially more lucrative and more viable agreement for Canadians to access this market.

Core elements were agreed, including that environment and labour rights will form crucial pillars of the new Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, and be subject to dispute-settlement mechanisms.

We have also identified pathways to work on a number of outstanding issues for Canadians and will redouble efforts with stakeholders to make sure we look out for their interests during that process. 

Trade should be a march to the top, not a race to the bottom.

Now is the time to see the entire chessboard and protect every piece and see every move so we are positioned for success in not just five years’ time, but in 20 and 50 years as well.

In India, we must match the historical, cultural and people-to-people ties we have in abundance with more trade and investment.

Our bilateral trade today stands at $8 billion. I think we can do much better. 

That is why Minister Bains, Minister Garneau and I undertook one of the largest trade missions in our history just two weeks ago across five cities in India.

A 150-plus strong business delegation made a visible case for doing more and the benefits that can be reaped by both sides through more investment.

I also pressed for action on the long-stalled FIPA [foreign investment promotion and protection agreements] and CEPA because we need these frameworks to ensure our success and, frankly, to deal with issues.

I know that the issue of pulse shipments has caused great concern.

We’ve had some success with short-term extensions and have a good plan to secure the long term in meeting India’s food-security needs. 

I’ve reminded my counterparts on multiple occasions that this approach does not help their reputation as a commercial partner. Farmers will rotate their crops and move on.

Together with Minister MacAulay, we have raised the issue regularly and often.

On the Pacific side of South America, we have secured a pathway to enhanced membership status with the Pacific Alliance, a union of Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile.

North and south, east and west, Canada is securing better terms for trade, locking in crucial progressive ambitions on gender, for workers and for the environment, and we are making real headway.

Now some of you will have heard recent speculation about Canada’s relationship with the world’s second-largest economy, China.

We are still carefully weighing the challenges and opportunities, but I’d like to give you a window into the discussions we are having now.

While we do not agree on every issue, engagement with this permanent UNSC [United Nations Security Council] member on Arctic, defence (North Korea, SCS [South China Sea]), African development, stability in the region, peacebuilding and climate change is not only desirable, it is imperative.

When Canada engages the world, when it builds and deepens its relationships, we can all capitalize not only in terms of dollars and cents, but in the raising of standards that comes from engaging with our country.

Canada has always set a bar and has always sought to move the dial for human progress through engagement.

As we consider next steps—and I will be joining the Prime Minister on the trip this weekend—we must also see Canada for what it is today: a G-7 country, a principal architect of the world’s multilateral organizations, a determined peacebuilder and a beacon of stability and predictability.

We are not just 35 million people, but a market at the centre of East and West, with preferential access already—with CETA and NAFTA—to the world’s most lucrative consumer markets of 1.2 billion individuals.

The challenge we face is how best to position Canada to be in an even stronger position over the longer term.

From an economic point of view, let us be clear about what is at stake for our middle class.

Today there is over $90 billion in annual bilateral trade between Canada and China, and that is poised to double again—and again—by 2025. 

That’s one billion consumers rapidly growing in prosperity and the demand for the quality products that comes with it.

With so much untapped potential—for both sides—still remaining, we are looking at whether a framework whereby issues can be addressed and where the rule of law is paramount is better than the ad hoc approach favoured by the previous government.

We are looking at whether and how to provide the tools and protections necessary so that our smaller and medium-sized companies can compete and win so we can level the playing field.

And we are already trading with China.

As an example, cranberries from the Maritimes are going gangbusters in China. We should be making that happen for every producer in every part of the country!

Nine out of 13 provinces and territories currently have China as their top five export market and of these, six now have China as their number two trading partner.

The “short-termism” of the Harper years has too many costs: when it comes to access for hardworking Canadians to be successful, protections for our workers or the defence and promotion of our values, relationships matter.

We have been holding exploratory talks and fostering ongoing stakeholder engagement and we have learned from those who have gone before us, like Australia.

We have been clear from the start with our Chinese friends, throughout exploratory talks, that should we move forward, this will take time. 

Time that we will use to understand the needs and concerns of Canadian workers and families.

When it comes to trade, Canadians expect us to be resolute and steadfast in the promotion of our values abroad and in preserving and protecting our national security—all while growing our economy for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

We must see the entire chessboard and plan our moves accordingly.

As minister of international trade, I have been thinking about and focusing a lot on Asia.

Of course, there is a lot of work to do and it will take time to get right.

It will take time to deliver a comprehensive approach to the Pacific—the entire chessboard!

In order to succeed, we must stand together in our pursuit of progressive trade.

Let’s seize every opportunity. Let’s be ambitious. Let’s make trade real for people.  

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