Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks following the CETA signing ceremony in Belgium
Thank you very much. It’s such a pleasure for me to be here today with President Tusk, President Juncker—Jean-Claude and Donald—to add my signature to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. By affixing our signature, Canada, like the 28 other signatories, is declaring its commitment to a trade agreement designed to ensure a better future for all citizens. Together we have reached a historic agreement that will protect and nurture the economic and social well-being of 543 million citizens.
We expect this pact to boost trade among the partner countries by 20 percent in addition to pumping billions of dollars into our economies. Canada is the European Union’s 12th leading trading partner, and the EU is our second leading trading partner. But the ties that bind us extend well beyond economic cooperation. This accord is the product of lengthy discussions. Frank discussions, to be sure, but conducted respectfully among partners with shared values.
First and foremost, Canadians and Europeans share the understanding that, in order for real and meaningful economic growth, we need to create more good, well-paying jobs for our citizens. Progressive trade agreements like the one signed today will do just that. With greater access to European markets, Canadian businesses can continue to grow and create more of the jobs Canadian families need. We know that jobs in competitive exporting sectors offer better pay with wages that are 50% higher than in industries that are not trade-intensive. And those are the kinds of jobs we look forward to welcoming as a result of today's agreement. Greater market access, more economic growth, and stronger job creation. That's good news for Canada's middle class and for the communities they call home.
Canadians and Europeans also agree that the growth we achieve needs to be more inclusive. The benefits of growth must be felt by everyone, not just our wealthiest citizens. In creating more opportunities for Canadian and European workers, we are charting a path toward an economic future that is both more inclusive and more progressive.
The agreement we signed today is also grounded in an understanding that we need to uphold common standards and respect the public good. That's why we negotiated hard to ensure that it contains provisions on labour protection, responsible investment, food and consumer safety, management of natural resources, and environmental stewardship.
Like the Strategic Partnership Agreement, CETA reflects the values and ambitions that Canada and the European Union share.
I also would like to thank the many people who have been instrumental in securing this important trade agreement.
I would like to pay special tribute to the incredible work put in by Minister Freeland, by Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, by Commissioner Malmström and by their respective teams. I would also like to point out that we’ve been in government for only one year, but this agreement was negotiated over a seven-year period. And the previous government, with whom I was not always in agreement, worked very hard to push the values that Canadians and Europeans recognize as important, such as economic growth for all. I would also like to thank the President of the European Union, Martin Schulz, for his support and hard work. And I’d like to single out the role Quebec played in the negotiations and in the signing of this agreement.
It was our former Premier Jean Charest who, at the start of these negotiations, really put a lot of energy into getting us to where we now find ourselves today. And Philippe Couillard, the current Premier, has played an extremely important role as well, demonstrating a strong voice to defend Quebec’s interests on the international stage, working directly with Wallonia and other Francophone regions to stress that this pact is good for Quebec, good for Canada and good for Europe. I’d like to thank both Philippe and Jean for being here with us today. It was their unstinting efforts that made it possible to conclude this historic agreement today. This agreement would not have been possible without the perseverance of many, without patience and a commitment to serve Canadians and Europeans. Thank you, everyone, for your hard work. We are pleased to be opening a new chapter in the friendship, commitment and partnership between Canada and Europe.