Prime Minister Trudeau speaks to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong
Thank you, Derek, for that kind introduction. Ni hao. And thanks to all of you for taking time to join us today. This is one of the last events on what has been a really great trip and it feels wonderful to be surrounded again by so many friends.
That includes all those at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce who have worked so hard to put on this event. Thanks for bringing us all together this afternoon. And of course I have to acknowledge some special friends and colleagues who are here this afternoon.
That includes our Minister of International Trade, Chrystia Freeland, and our Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, who have worked very hard during this trip, as they do every day. Chrystia, Bill, stand up so we can see you guys.
Chrystia and Bill. Bill is closing important deals for Canada.
And they’ve worked hard and we have the results to prove it. You see, usually at the end of a visit there’s a tendency to cry victory and talk about what has been accomplished, to talk about agreements signed and deals made. That’s certainly what I could do today.
As part of this trip, we had a series of commercial signings that saw Canadian and Chinese firms complete 56 deals worth more than $1.2 billion. That’s a great start.
That’s a great start on what I hope and I know will be many, many more joint ventures in the months and years to come. But I think it’s important to remember that we came here with an even bigger goal than any one signing or even any 56 signings. We wanted… we needed to renew and deepen the relationship between the people of Canada and the people of China for the long term. And I think it’s safe to say we accomplished just that.
In meeting with President Xi and Premier Li, we began the important and necessary work of revitalizing the relationship between our two governments. In our meetings with Chinese and Canadian business leaders, we talked candidly about ways that we can work together to make sure that more people, especially those in the middle class and those working hard to join it can feel the full benefits of economic growth.
And in the opportunities I’ve had to meet with Chinese citizens, I’ve been reminded of something that is as true here in Hong Kong as it is back in Hamilton: that we are more alike than we are different. In Canada and increasingly in China, the middle class is at the heart of the economy.
I’m talking about the people who get up early every day, get the kids off to school, rush to their jobs and work hard to make ends meet for their families. They don’t ask for a lot. All they really ask for in return for their hard work is a real and fair chance to succeed and for the opportunity to leave to their children a better world than the one they inherited from their own parents.
That’s a desire we all share. So it is our responsibility as leaders, me in government and you in the business world, to do what we can to make those aspirations a reality. To start, well, we can continue to pursue more open trade. Canadian goods and services are among the best on the planet and our businesses deserve to have greater access to the large and rapidly growing economies of China and other Asian countries.
With our announcement at Alibaba, we opened a pipeline for Canadians to sell quality Canadian goods to over 400 million consumers. There’s a direct line between that market access and more good, well-paying jobs for Canadians. In addition to economic cooperation, we can encourage more ties between our people. Our cultural ties are deepening and strengthening every time we meet. And that includes the half a million Chinese tourists who visit Canada every year with a similar number of Canadians coming here to visit every year.
And because we know the value of those connections, we’ve named 2018 the year dedicated to Canada/China tourism. Although 2017 is our 150 anniversary and in true Canadian fashion we’ll be opening ourselves to the world, so if we want to encourage people to come for 2017 and 2018, I know Air Canada as one of our sponsors would be very happy among others.
(Laughter & applause)
Building on a renewed foundation of friendship and trust, Canada and China can also encourage each other to do better and to be better, whether the issue is good governance, human rights, climate change, or the need to listen to diverse perspectives.
But none of these objectives can be achieved—whether it’s trade, building relationships between people or working together to resolve problems—if our relationship is not strong. As I said the other night, ultimately, what I want to build on behalf of 36 million Canadians is an enduring friendship.
When Canada and China have a stronger, more stable relationship we can both work together to strengthen and grow the middle class in both countries. A stronger relationship will open up opportunities, including ones we can’t anticipate yet, and help us chart a path to broader, cleaner economic growth.
And a stronger relationship will make it possible for our two countries to work together in ways that can satisfy not only our own interests but the needs of our entire planet.
So I want to thank you once again for the warm welcome everyone has extended to me personally, to my family and to our entire Canadian delegation. Your generosity means so much to me.
And I’m really interested in hearing the questions that you have for me, so I’m looking forward to shifting to that part of this luncheon.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Dojeh.