18 March 2010
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today delivered the following opening remarks to the G-20 Sherpas’ meeting:
"I am very happy to be with you today and to welcome you personally to Ottawa. First of all, I want to thank you for your hard work in supporting the G‑20 agenda.
"As you all know, we are now preparing for the G‑20 in June in Toronto, and these meetings are part of that preparation. I think many people are probably not aware that the relatively brief leaders’ summits are the culmination of months of work at various levels of our governments to arrive at the final declarations and next steps forward.
"You, as the so-called ‘sherpas’ of your countries, play a leading role in this process. And, if you are anything like Canada’s Sherpa, Len Edwards, our Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, then your countries are very well served indeed.
"So, once again, it is an honour to have you here. Now, if I could speak just for a few moments about this upcoming summit. This will be another chapter in the historic role the G-20 has played in dealing with the most severe financial and economic crisis facing the world since the Great Depression. Our collective efforts, the G‑20’s efforts, are helping to minimize the impact of the crisis and to favour a more rapid recovery. In so doing, the G‑20 is playing its rightful role as a principal forum for international economic cooperation.
"Canada believes that the G‑20 can and should continue to live up to this important role as the world’s principal economic forum. It will be judged, however, by its ability, not just to respond to crisis, but also its capacity to help lead the world through recovery and beyond. I believe this will mean that we must— as nations and as our nation’s representatives — continue to understand what brought us together. We discovered that, in the new world of the global economy, whether the skies herald rain or shine, we are all in the same boat.
"And though it is natural and expected that we all will defend our national interest, that national interest must be ‘enlightened.’ It must take into account the overall, long-term needs of the entire global economy if that global economy is to prosper. We can’t lose sight of what remains our biggest collective challenge. The recovery is by no means fully assured. Too many citizens, in all of our countries, are still feeling the recession’s impacts.
"Our theme in Toronto we are calling ‘Recovery and New Beginnings.’ This task we must begin by continuing to make real progress in delivering on the actions agreed to in Washington, London and Pittsburgh. First, we must continue with our stimulus measures. At the same time, it also behooves us to put our minds to how these will be balanced with exit strategies. Second, we should aim to progress our discussions on the global framework launched in Pittsburgh for achieving long-term growth that is balanced and sustainable. This will enable us to identify specific actions at our next leaders’ summit in Seoul in November. Third, we must strengthen regulatory systems for the financial sector. These reforms have already been agreed. However, they will not be effective unless we put them in place. This has become a matter of urgency. We must get this done within the agreed timeframe. Fourth, we must continue working to advance quota and other reforms at international financial institutions to increase their legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness. We must also provide adequate resources and tools to enable these institutions, including multilateral development banks, to do what has been asked of them. Fifth, securing recovery requires all of us to keep our markets open. I feel very strongly about this.
"Canada has recently negotiated a number of bilateral trade and investment agreements. Furthermore, our 2010 federal budget eliminated all remaining tariffs on manufacturing inputs and machinery and equipment. This will make Canada a tariff-free zone for manufacturers. I would like to encourage your governments to consider concrete actions that they can take — perhaps that we can all take — to open global markets and keep them open. Open global markets have been responsible for the growing worldwide prosperity of the past generation. If we lose our commitment to open markets, no matter how understandable the short-term political reasons may be, then we will lose that prosperity.
"In conclusion, there are a number of things that the G‑20 must do to remain credible as a principal global forum for economic leadership. More specifically, the G‑20 must honour its past commitments. It must also promote a sense of shared responsibility for the global economy, for the happiness and well‑being of people around the world. I know that, as Sherpas, you will be keenly aware of the central role you play in this regard.
"You understand that the policies you are working on — effective and sustainable monetary and fiscal measures, sound and well-regulated financial institutions, open and competitive trade flows — are not ends in themselves. They are the basis of a system that has provided opportunity and hope.
"Millions upon millions of people on every continent have been raised from want and privation to middle-class expectations over the past generation. Today, they have better expectations for their children than earlier generations ever dared entertain for themselves. It is for people such as these that we labour at these summits ─ for them and, of course, for the victims of recession in our own countries. You could hardly be engaged in work of more value to more people, and I thank you for doing it.