PM promotes trade with Canadian business leaders in São Paulo

São Paulo, Brazil
9 August 2011

Good afternoon, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Greetings to the Canadian delegation, also to members of the Canada-Brazil Chamber of Commerce here in São Paulo. The opportunity to speak to such a high-powered audience as yourselves is a welcome privilege and we thank you for joining us today.

It is, of course, great to be here in São Paulo and great to be in Brazil. I’d like to begin by once again, thanking President Rousseff and the government of Brazil for the warm welcome we’ve received.

As you know, we have only been in São Paulo for a matter of hours, but it’s very easy to see why it has been named a world city. The soaring buildings, the bustling construction activity, the beauty of the surrounding region, all evoke a very powerful energy and enthusiasm. It is a coming together of peoples and cultures to make a whole that is vastly more than the sum of its parts.

Now, of course, this is very familiar to us as Canadians and that is principally what I want to talk to you about today: the similarities and opportunities between our two great countries. For although we are separated by great distances – and sometimes great temperatures - in many ways, Canada and Brazil complement each other.

Already there is much that we are doing together, but, I believe there is much more we can do together in the future, in trade, in energy, in education, and in infrastructure.  In a larger sense, much of what I have just said of the impressiveness of São Paulo is the story of today’s Brazil.

And what a story it is. For, when the world looks at Brazil, what does it see? It sees a new industrial power, forging ahead with information and communication technologies, justly proud of its aircraft industry and well on the way to becoming a space-faring nation with its own orbital launch capacity. It sees a clean energy giant, with particularly well-developed hydro and ethanol production.

It also sees a massive new supplier of oil and a giant to feed the hungry, yet a country whose deep commitment to the environment has led it to make great efforts to preserve the Amazon rainforest.  And the world sees remarkable growth, as Brazil prepares to build and revitalize the airports, ports, railways and other infrastructure it needs as a great power.

Finally, we see this: a powerful democracy at the hub of a great continent; one that rebukes the world’s doubters by showing that deep in the heart of all peoples, even those once confined by dictatorship, the passion for freedom never dies. And when it boils over, as it did here in Brazil, the world is enriched by a neighbour dedicated to peace: a people with the capacity to prosper, a government eager to promote human rights - in other words, a glorious nation, confident in its strength.

Such is Brazil – now the world’s seventh largest economy, bound to move up in the rankings, a nation in which good policy and sound management have helped it do well through the global recession.

Brazil has proven to be well worthy of its place in the G-20. I know we in Canada have been working closely on important ideas to guide new developments in the international economic system with our Brazilian counterparts. We have also partnered in Haiti, where Brazil leads the UN Stabilization Mission to that struggling nation. For these and many other reasons, Canadians applaud as Brazil takes its rightful place on the world stage.

In your story, we see some of our own, the same story of progress from colonial status, to federalism and mature independence - the same outward urge, from our first cities to our respective vast frontiers, the Amazon and the Arctic - the same evolution of our economies, from resource extraction, to industrialization, to the remarkable new world of knowledge-based innovation - and of course, the same passion for freedom, democracy and justice not only at home, but around the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, the rise of Brazil is an inspiration to those who watched, and it must surely be a great satisfaction to the people of Brazil themselves. The rise of Brazil is also a story in which Canadians would welcome the opportunity to play a larger role.

In some ways, to do that would simply be to return to older Canadian priorities, for our great countries have been actively involved before: viewed through the long lens of history, the comparative lack of engagement during the second half of the last century was an historical anomaly.

It was 70 years ago that Brazil opened a legation in Ottawa, shortly before it joined the Second World War as a partner with the allies against the Axis powers.  Not long after, Canada opened its embassy in Brazil. But way before then, in 1866, even before our provinces united in Confederation, Canada realized the importance of Brazil by opening our first trade office here.

Ten years after that – this is 1876 – we were pleased to receive a state visit from the Brazilian Emperor Pedro II, during his trip to North America. I must tell you that he stopped and did various things. He stopped to admire Canada’s signature Niagara Falls – declaring them to be ‘most beautiful.’  But then, patriot that he was, he then declared those of Paulo Afonso to be ‘more sublime.’

He also paid an early morning visit to Montreal’s Bonsecours Market, expressing, as a contemporary Canadian newspaper reported, ‘a favourable opinion in regard to Canada’s productions.’ And there is a charming story of how he received a personal demonstration of the telephone from Alexander Graham Bell. As Bell recited some Shakespeare, the astonished Emperor blurted out, “This thing talks!’  But just a year later, in 1877, he brought Brazil – South America, in fact – its first telephone.

The fact is that the Emperor’s visit was an entirely serious matter - a scouting trip to review the leading technologies of the day for Brazil’s use.

Nineteenth-century Brazilians had this in common with today’s Brazil: they had a vision for their country; they knew that development would require technology, the newest and the best. And, in the years that followed, Canadians were prominent among those filling Brazil’s urgent demands for the tools of development that were available in those days: finance, railcars, electrical power.

I wish I could say that, 135 years later, nothing has changed. But friends, too much grass grows in the cracks on the road between our two great countries. It is time for increased ambition and that is why I am here today.

For, although Brazil is Canada’s largest trading partner in South America, our two countries still did barely six billion dollars in business last year, despite having a combined GDP of close to four trillion dollars.  And amazingly, that humble total represented a 40 per cent increase, year over year.

We are encouraged that there is growth. Unequivocally, there is interest: two-way investment between Canada and Brazil reached 23 billion dollars in 2010, driven by more than 400 Canadian companies in Brazil. I know many are represented here today such as Brookfield, Scotiabank, Research in Motion, Telesat, SNC Lavalin and Kinross.

Meanwhile, Brazil is the eighth-highest source of foreign direct investment in Canada, thanks to firms like Vale, Votorantim, Gerdau and Ambev. Still, when you do the math, total merchandise trade is still little more than one tenth of one per cent of our joint gross domestic product.  For two friendly countries, I think we could be friendlier than that.

Canada has intensely attractive economic fundamentals.  It seems we are a rarity today: A developed country with a strong fiscal position, a rock-solid banking sector and healthy job growth. Let me say something about this, by the way. Both our countries have strong economic fundamentals, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say something about what’s been going on in the markets.

I know we’re all intensely following this, the great volatility, but I want to repeat what I said earlier. As much as I know this is important, these market signals are important, we as policy makers should not ignore them.  But I do think way too much emphasis is placed on these day to day movements in stock markets. When there are paper gains, people are euphoric about them. When there are paper losses, pessimism spreads everywhere.

The fact of the matter is that our two countries have great economic fundamentals.  We have great endowments of resources, material, technological and human.

We have great opportunities and needs of our peoples, and what we need to be doing as policy makers in government and also as policy makers in business is focusing less on these day to day market movements and more on the great opportunities that are sitting in front of us if we focus on the medium and long term, and make sure we build wealth, trade and job creation for our two countries.

Ladies and gentlemen, since 2006, we have been actively reaching out to our neighbours in the Americas. We have signed, or are negotiating, free trade agreements with more than 20 of our hemispheric neighbours.  There have been more than 175 visits back and forth at the ministerial level, between our countries.

Here in Brazil, we have opened new trade offices in Recife and Porto Alegre. Last year, our Government led a business mission here in São Paulo and in Rio de Janeiro, seeking opportunities for Canadian business. And just six weeks ago, my friend and colleague Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International trade, was here in São Paulo, and also in Brasília, where he discussed with your government the deepening of trade relations between our two countries.

We believe there is enormous untapped potential for increased trade between Brazil and Canada. In making this visit to Brazil, I hope to demonstrate Canada’s keen interest in taking our relationship to the next level.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with President Rousseff.  We took stock of our situation. Over the past five years, Canada and Brazil have reached a new level of maturity and positive engagement.

For example, we have also established scholarship programs to encourage two-way academic mobility. Some 16,000 Brazilian students came to Canada to study last year, making Canada the number-one destination for Brazilians studying languages abroad.

Education is a core element in President Rousseff’s plan to eradicate poverty and support employment, growth and prosperity. We agree and Canada was pleased to host the first Conference of the Americas on International Education in my hometown of Calgary, in 2010.

I am therefore happy to announce that His Excellency the Governor General of Canada, David Johnson a distinguished academic in his own right – will lead the Canadian delegation to the second Conference of the Americas on International Education when Brazil hosts it in Rio de Janeiro next spring.

Another example of increased collaboration is the aerospace industry. We have agreed to rules governing aircraft export financing. The principle is this: we all believe in competition.  But, we want competition has to be between businesses, not governments. In the case of aircraft, it has to be between Embraer and Bombardier, not Brazilian and Canadian taxpayers.

As a result, aerospace is becoming a promising area of increased partnership between our industries, and of increased jobs and growth. For instance, Air Canada already uses the Embraer E-90 between Ottawa and Calgary, and Canadian companies are part Of Embraer’s supply chain.

What this should show us is that when we work out those things that divide us, we initiate a virtuous circle of goodwill, cooperation and economic opportunity. Yesterday we signed the Canada-Brazil Air Transport Agreement. Among other things, this means more options for travelers as Canadian and Brazilian airlines offer service using the flights of each other’s airlines.

There’s also an Agreement on Social Security, a Memorandum of Understanding on Olympics Games Cooperation – something I will come back to – and another on working together in the developing world.

On that last point, Brazil is an increasingly important development partner, and Brazil’s remarkable accomplishment - lifting 20 million of its citizens out of extreme poverty – has given it unique expertise that Canada can and will draw on in our own international development efforts.

We also launched three new Visa Application Centers for Brazilian applicants.

Finally, President Rousseff and I capped it off with the Canada-Brazil Science and Technology Joint Action Plan, which is a direct outcome of our 2008 Science and Technology Agreement.

It was a good day’s work. It capped months and years of good work by Canadian and Brazilian officials, that we are determined to build on. That includes, very importantly, formally exploring how to deepen trading relations between Canada and Mercosur. This is the logical next step in our journey forward.

While those discussions progress, the way remains clear for Canada and Brazil to identify key sectors in which strengthened cooperation and deepened partnerships could prove mutually beneficial.

Canada has well-developed capabilities in areas where Brazil anticipates significant needs and growth. To name a few: infrastructure, resource extraction, including oil and gas, financial services, agribusiness, aerospace, clean technologies, new media, and engineering.

Which leads me to another important announcement. Yesterday, President Rousseff and I announced the creation of the Canada-Brazil CEO Forum. This forum will bring together our business leaders. The forum’s deliberations should help produce a common vision for economic relations between our two countries, provide policy advice to both governments, and ultimately lead to the things we want to see: more trade, investment, opportunities and the bottom line –more jobs and growth in both countries.

Today, I am happy to announce that the Canadian co-chairman of the Canada-Brazil CEO Forum will be one of Canada’s prominent bankers, Mr. Rick Waugh. For the last eight years, Rick has been President and CEO of Scotiabank. He is also a member of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, a member of the Council of the Americas, and we have great confidence that together with Murilo Ferreira, who President Rousseff yesterday designated as the Brazilian co-chair, the Forum will help enlarge trade and investment between our two countries, in both directions and for the benefit of both our peoples.

Now, before I relinquish the podium, I said I wanted to say a little more about the Olympic Games. First, let me congratulate not only the Brazilian Olympic Committee for securing the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also the team that won for Brazil the privilege of hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

I should mention that after you have the FIFA men, Canada will welcome the world the following summer, for the women’s final.  We also look forward to welcoming you for The Pan-Am Games in Toronto, in 2015.

We offer you more than congratulations, however. Canada has acquired advanced expertise in the somewhat particular requirements of the Olympics. The Memorandum of Understanding signed yesterday makes Canada’s considerable expertise available to the Brazilian committee, and will promote business and investment opportunities for Brazilian and Canadian companies alike. And, I hope, the wonderful experience of hosting world athletic events will help bring our countries and our peoples closer together.

Ladies and gentlemen, I began by talking about how as nations we had travelled parallel roads in the past. And so we did. But parallel roads never bring you together.

Perhaps that was good enough, once upon a time. But I suggest to you that it is not good enough any more.  We live in a fast-changing world. Relationships are changing. New actors, Brazil among them, are making their voices heard. Some older actors like Canada are outperforming their peers.

It is increasingly hard to predict what the world will look like in the future or what may be demanded of any of us. What will matter, for sure, is goodwill, trade and the strength and hope that prosperity makes possible.

My earnest hope is that, in the days and months to come, we will make good decisions for the decades that follow: decisions that will put us, not on parallel tracks, but on a common highway to a great destiny together.

Thank you again for your invitation and for your attention.