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Archived - Remarks by the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Luncheon

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Winnipeg, Manitoba
July 16, 2012

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Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you Ron (Ron Koslowsky, Vice President, CME Manitoba Division) for that kind introduction. It's good to see you again.

I'd also like to give a special thanks to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters for hosting this event, and for convening such an illustrious group of business leaders.

I'm pleased to be here in Winnipeg. My appreciation goes to the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters for hosting this event and for convening this group of business leaders today.

I'm very happy to be back here in Winnipeg, the city of my birth and the place where my parents first met and got married.

Before I begin, I want to personally thank all the CME members here in Winnipeg and across Canada for their collaboration, support and effort in advancing Canada's economic interests at home and abroad, especially when it comes to advancing Canada's trade interests.

As Canada's largest industry and trade association, representing all sectors of manufacturing and export activity across Canada, the CME is fundamental to our country's present and future prosperity. 

We share a common goal when it comes to opening the doors to more trade and investment.

And that's why CME President and CEO, Jayson Myers, was recently appointed to the Government of Canada's Global Commerce Strategy panel.

He and other panel members will act as a sounding board for our Conservative government, and provide advice on how we can maximize economic opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses at home and around the world.

That's also why I'm travelling through Western Canada this summer, consulting broadly with business, industry and transportation stakeholders about our government's pro-trade plan. I'm also sharing with Canadians our efforts to expand and deepen Canada's commercial engagement with the Asia-Pacific region.

Friends, our government's top priority has been and continues to be the economy, the creation of jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians.

We believe that expanding and diversifying our trading relationships around the world is one of the best ways to achieve these goals. In fact, we believe trade is the new stimulus. 

As many of you know, when the global economic crisis hit, countries around the world injected massive fiscal stimulus into their economies in order to prime the economic pump so to speak.

Canada was no different. We invested heavily in critical transportation and knowlege infrastructure to position Canada to lead the world in its economic performance.

Our investments have paid off. Since July of 2009, we've seen the creation of 760,000 new Canadian jobs, recovering all of the jobs lost in the recession and adding another 360,000. Indeed, our job creation record leads the G-7 nations and most other developed countries.

Going forward, however, our government believes that trade is the new stimulus, and that freer and more open trade around the world is critical for the global economic recovery.

I say this because Canadians understand our proud history as a trading nation.

And for good reason: Trade represents one out of every five Canadian jobs. It drives 64% of all of Canada's economic activity every year.

That's why we've embarked upon the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history.

While the United States will always be our largest and most important trading partner, we know that we must deepen our trade and investment ties with the most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world.

Let me give you a few examples of how we're doing just that.

As many of you know, we're working hard to conclude a free trade agreement with the European Union.

A trade agreement with the EU will benefit businesses and workers in every region of our country. It is expected to create 80,000 new Canadian jobs and add $12 billion each year to our GDP.

There is no larger integrated economy in the world than the European Union, with its more than 500 million consumers and a GDP of over $17 trillion.

But our most promising opportunities lie in the Asian economies.

We're strengthening our ties with China, which is now Canada's second largest trading partner. Over the last ten years, trade between Canada and China has more than tripled to $65 billion annually.

The potential for increased Canadian trade with China is huge. The world's most populous nation with 1.3 billion people, China is expected by many to become the world's largest economy by 2020.

In the years ahead, the Chinese economy can and will benefit greatly from Canadian innovation and expertise, as Canada in turn benefits from this largely untapped dynamic marketplace.

We're also progressing toward a deeper trade relationship with high-growth India. In fact, the Canada-India Joint Study Report concluded that free trade could boost Canada's economy by at least $6 billion a year. That translates to almost 40,000 new jobs across the country.

We've recently begun free-trade negotiations with Japan, the world's third largest economy, and we're in exploratory talks with Thailand, our largest trade partner in Southeast Asia.

And, as most of you are aware, we've recently been invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks. I'd like to personally thank the CME for the vital role your organization played in helping us secure this invitation.

Membership in this partnership means a market of 510 million people and a GDP of 17.6 trillion dollars. With our country and Mexico participating, and with Japan also prospectively joining the TPP, this market would comprise 775 million people and a GDP of 27 trillion dollars.

Friends, our pro-trade plan has already made Canada one of the most open pro-trade economies in the world. Indeed, the Economic Freedom Index ranks Canada 6th in the world in terms of the openess of its economy.

But we aren't stopping there. We've taken other important steps to strengthen our economy.

We've removed the monopoly power of the Canadian Wheat Board, to provide our farmers with more marketing freedom.

We've provided our consumers with more choice by opening up our telecommunications industry to greater competition.

And since 2009, our Conservative government has unilaterally eliminated more than 1,800 tariffs, including all tariffs on imported machinery, equipment and manufacturing inputs. That makes Canada the first tariff-free manufacturing zone in the G-20 countries.

Our efforts to deepen Canada's trade and investment ties in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region are also being facilitated by strategic investments and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

In fact, starting today, right here in Winnipeg, I'm travelling across Western Canada to highlight the competitive advantages we've created through this initiative.

These investments are positioning Canada as the "Gateway of Choice" between Asia and North America. In fact, Canada's west coast ports are more than two days closer to Asian markets than any other ports in North America.

However, we risk losing our geographical advantage if we don't improve our transportation infrastructure, to ensure our goods and resources enter and leave Canada efficiently.

And that's why, since 2006, our government has invested 1.4 billion dollars into Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure projects, an amount that has been leveraged to almost 4 billion dollars with the participation of provincial and municipal governments and the private sector.

Almost 50 projects have been supported, creating jobs and economic growth in local communities, while easing the movement of goods, services and people to and from the fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets.

As a result of these strategic investments and partnerships, Canadian exports to the Asia-Pacific region have reached record levels. For example, in 2011 alone, Canadian exports to China increased an impressive 27%.

These investments are also generating new business opportunities, improving the flow of traffic, enhancing the efficiency of the transportation system, attracting investments, and boosting Canada's global competitiveness.

And just in case anyone thinks that these investments are only about Western Canada, think again. 60% of all container traffic entering our west coast ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert are destined for, you guessed it, Central Canada. The truth is, Canada's Asia-Pacific Gateway strategy is a pan-Canadian strategy, driving economic growth and prosperity in EVERY region of our country.

Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg are critical links in Canada's Asia-Pacific transportation and trade corridor. To know this, you only have to look at a map.

Winnipeg is at the nexus between the Asia Pacific Gateway and the Mid-Continental Trade Corridor.

You're at the northern terminus of the road and rail corridor that links major commercial centres in the Canadian and U.S. Midwest, through the Southwest and into Mexico.

Under the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, our government has invested over 33 million dollars in Centreport Way right here in Manitoba. These investments will ease the movement of goods, services and people to and from the Asia-Pacific region.

Through this infrastructure project, we are supporting CentrePort Canada, which was created to harness Winnipeg's strategic location as a hub for both north-south and east-west flows of trade. This project will attract investments in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution around the J.A. Richardson International Airport.

We want to help ensure that Winnipeg and Manitoba continue to reap the benefits of our ever-growing trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

We're moving quickly, because there's no time to waste.

Friends, in what remain challenging economic times around the globe, more must be done to improve the flow of Canada's much sought after commodities — be it grains & oilseeds, oil & gas, potash, lumber or coal — through to our west coast.

Rest assured, our government will continue to build on Canada's competitive advantages.

Friends, these gateway investments I've talked about today are just a part of an incredible adventure that we all refer to as "trade". That adventure is not for the faint of heart; it's not for skeptics or scoffers.

What Canada needs right now is more champions for trade. Champions like yourselves.

Our economy depends on an ambitious, expansive, global view of Canada – not on a small, timid and out-dated one. That's exactly why we're making the critical investments that I've talked about today.

This grand adventure we're on is going to be an incredible journey.

So what I ask of you is this…

Join me in living up to the grand vision of Canada that inspired previous generations of Canadians. The same grand vision that continues to inspire millions of people around the world who hope upon hope to one day become Canadians.

What an opportunity that is!

I look forward to joining you on that great adventure!

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today, and I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues.

Thank you very much.

 


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