Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks on the strong ties between Canada and Belgium
Hello everyone. Before I start, I would just like to say a few words about the passing of Helmut Kohl, the former Chancellor… of Germany, who was a great statesman, who presided over the reunification of Germany and of whom I have fond childhood memories. I visited him with my father when I was very young, and he was always so very kind to me. I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to my German friends.
I want to start by saying a couple of words of condolence and sympathy for our German friends on the passing of Helmut Kohl, a great statesman who presided over the reunification of Germany and left an indelible mark on Germany, and indeed on Europe. I have fond memories of having met him as a child with my father, and I know that many Germans will be morning his passage today.
Thank you for being with us this afternoon. I would first like to welcome my friend the Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, who is on his first official visit to Canada. Since the start of my mandate, I have had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Michel a few times, but always on the European continent. So, I am pleased to have the opportunity to see him again, but this time on our side of the Atlantic. There are many ties that unite Canada with Belgium. First, we share a language but also values, such as equality, democracy and the promotion of peace. Whether it is through trade or student exchanges, the bridges between the two countries continue to multiply, and our citizens are all the better for it. It is in this spirit of friendship that we just concluded our most productive meeting, at which we discussed our shared objectives. The Prime Minister and I are determined to work together to create more opportunities for our businesses, to grow our economies and to help the middle class prosper and succeed. And we have already accomplished a lot together.A few months ago, with our European partners, we celebrated the signing and then the adoption by the European Union of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, an historic and progressive agreement that reflects our values. Canada and the European Union are currently working on completing the procedures for the provisional application of CETA.
CETA, as you know, is the result of lengthy negotiations between Canada and the European Union. Negotiations that were at times difficult but always respectful. We were able to have those challenging conversations because we share more than economic interests, we share a common set of values. And the result is an agreement that will expand opportunities and create more good well-paying middle class jobs for Canadians and Europeans alike.
It’s an agreement that would not have been possible without the support of like-minded leaders, including Prime Minister Michel, and I want to thank him for his leadership in seeing CETA through to completion. Once fully implemented, CETA will reduce trade barriers and open up new markets benefitting both citizens and businesses. Canadian families will find it more affordable to buy a wide range of products from Europe, and thanks to the EU’s elimination of tariffs on 99% of Canadian exports, Canadian businesses will have greater access to one of the world’s largest and most important markets.
But what makes CETA a truly modern and progressive agreement is the way in which it reflects our values.
The Agreement includes other measures aimed at protecting the rights of workers and respecting environmental regulations, as well as provisions to ensure transparency and fairness in investment dispute resolution. It is therefore an ambitious and progressive agreement in keeping with our priorities and our values. CETA is just one example of what Canada and Belgium can accomplish when they work together. I am therefore looking forward to cooperation in other areas of shared interest, such as world security, assistance and development to promote gender equality, and the environment. Once again, I would like to thank Charles for this productive exchange. Thank you everyone for being here with us this morning, and thank you Charles for your friendship.