The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, delivers the keynote address at the Canada in Conversation event hosted by the Embassy of Canada.
Thank you, Ambassador – and thanks to all of the staff here at the Embassy.
I also want to thank our Chinese guests for joining us this evening. We are honoured by your presence.
It’s a privilege to be joined on this trip by such an impressive delegation of Canadian business, government and Indigenous leaders. Their presence reflects the importance of partnerships in developing Canada’s abundant natural resources. My thanks to all of you for being here.
It’s certainly appropriate that we meet tonight in a room named for Alvin Hamilton because, as Canada’s Minister of Agriculture in the 1960’s, he pioneered the sale of wheat to China.
He saw the potential for our two countries to do more. To go further. And to break new ground. Tonight, I want to do the same in the area of natural resources.
Just north of Tai’an (Thai Ann) City, in Shandong province, is the sacred Mount Tai. Its distinctive location gives it four natural wonders: sunrise, clouds, frost and "Buddha’s Light."
Tradition tells us that when Confucius reached the summit he declared, “From Mount Tai, the whole world looks small.”
Today, thanks to technology and innovation, the world seems smaller and smaller. What were once distant lands – and unreachable markets – are now virtually at our doorstep. Inviting all of us to open ourselves to new partnerships and new possibilities.
For Canada, no partnership holds more potential than the one we enjoy with China. We want to lay the foundation for a long-term relationship that anticipates the new resource economy. A relationship that benefits both nations.
I have come to your beautiful country with a very simple message: Canada is open for business.
Of course, China and Canada are far from strangers. We are joined by the ties of family and the connections of commerce.
Chinese is the third-most-spoken language in Canada and more than a million people of Chinese descent call Canada home.
Today, when you look to Canada, you will see your own reflection.
Our ties stretch back to Dr. Norman Bethune, to Canada’s decision to send an ambassador here in 1942, and to the recognition of China in 1970 by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
Under Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Premier Zhu Rongji (juu Ron Jee) described Canada as a “best friend” of China and, in 2005, granted us strategic partnership status.
Our government has worked hard at rekindling that relationship with China – including through Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip here last year and Premier Li’s reciprocal visit to Canada shortly thereafter.
During his trip here, Prime Minister Trudeau noted that this is a special time in the history of China-Canada relations.
The wide-scale structural changes now taking place create opportunities to expand trade and investment, grow the middle class and encourage economic growth.
Which is why our government believes it’s time to take our relationship to the next level. And we have launched exploratory discussions on a free trade agreement to do just that.
Half of China’s imports from Canada are resource-related. But we know that we are still only scratching the surface of what could be.
We are in a time where the definition of natural resources is expanding. As you well know we have an obligation to future generations to consistently be building a clean growth economy and a low-carbon world.
Whether that means expanding our wind and solar power industries, or improving the low emission technology for oil and gas, we are clearly amid a global energy transition.
China is at the leading edge of that transition. Canada is too. I think that makes us excellent partners today, and in the years ahead.
Because of that, the search for technologies and energy to drive your factories and power your economy should lead you to Canada.
We are the world’s fourth-largest producer of oil, and have introduced a cap on oil sand emissions that is spurring innovation and driving technology.
We are also the third-largest producer of natural gas and the second-largest producer of uranium.
Canada is also a supplier of choice for wood products. We are blessed with the third-largest forested area on the planet and have developed almost 40 percent of the world’s certified forests – far more than any other country.
We export our wood products to more than 140 different countries – including China – where imports of Canadian products have grown by more than 25 times since 2002. China’s imports of our softwood has grown by 30 times over that same period.
There is no greater reminder that the world has narrowed into a neighbourhood than our common challenge of climate change.
Today, Canada is hosting World Environment Day, with the theme of “Connecting People to Nature”.
Across our country – and around the globe – individuals will be participating in events that remind us of our reciprocal links to this planet.
China understands this imperative. It is a signatory to the Paris Agreement. And is making generational changes to how it uses energy – including committing to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 18 per cent and capping its coal emissions by 2020.
It has enacted new laws to put more pressure on polluters and increase public disclosure. And, of course, it is hosting this year’s Clean Energy Ministerial, right here in Beijing.
As China embraces the opportunities of a clean-growth economy, Canada has much to offer. As you’ll see from the companies represented on this trip, in Canada we have some of the most cutting-edge products and services available anywhere.
Companies like Canadian Solar, one of the three largest solar companies in the world, or Ballard Power Systems, which has joined with local partners to deliver zero-emission fuel cells to China’s transportation systems.
We see tremendous potential in all of these areas. For example, at the moment, China only receives about two percent of our oil exports and none of our natural gas.
We’re looking to change that.
Our government has approved new pipelines that will get our oil to global markets.
And we’re preparing to export liquefied natural gas. Canada has approved three LNG projects on our Pacific coast, with a combined potential to export more than 40 million tonnes of natural gas per year.
We’re hopeful that more projects will come on line. We see these facilities as essential to diversifying the market for our natural gas while creating a secure and reliable new source of supply for importers such as China during its energy transition.
Canada’s nuclear energy sector has a longest-standing relationship with China and is gearing up to solidify its place as a strategic and enduring partner. This includes providing Canadian expertise as well as uranium to fuel China’s low-carbon nuclear fleet.
As China continues to grow and modernize, it is looking for many of the things that Canada has in abundance, including minerals and metals essential for clean technologies.
In fact, Canada is a global mining hub. The Toronto Stock Exchange is home to nearly 60 percent of the world’s publicly traded mining companies, and more than half of the world’s equity financing for mining and mineral exploration is conducted in Canada.
All of which makes Canada a prime destination for mineral exploration and mining and the first choice for international partnerships.
Of course, globalization is not only about trade, it is also about investment. China is already a major investor in Canada’s resource sector but, again, we believe there’s room for more. Much more.
In a world of choice, Canada offers a compelling value proposition for Chinese investors.
We have been recognized as the best country in the G-20 to do business. We’re home to one of the soundest banking systems in the world, the lowest corporate tax rate among G-7 nations and we have a high-skill workforce that is among the best-educated in the world. Not to mention, Canada’s health care and immigration systems, which significantly reduce the cost of doing business.
Canada is also a low-risk jurisdiction, with stable institutions, a clear and certain regulatory framework, and sophisticated financial and legal sectors. That includes stronger-than-ever focus on our Indigenous relations, which is particularly important to energy projects.
Add it all up and we hope you see Canada as a reliable partner, a welcoming country and a great place to do business.
There is a wonderful Chinese expression, “Hua long dian jing” (Hwa Loon DeeAnn Jing) (paint the dragon, dot the eye). It means to take that next step, add the finishing touch to something that will really bring it alive.
With this mission, we are picking up our brushes to dot the eye. To complete what others have begun. And to release the China-Canada dragon to bring prosperity and fortune to both countries.
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