Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks at the III CEO Summit of the Americas in Peru
It’s a pleasure to spend a few days in Lima for the Summit of the Americas. I was here last for the APEC meeting about a year and half ago, and it’s still pretty cold up in Canada this time of year, so it goes without saying I’m glad to be back in Peru.
And this time around, Peru has a new president with a distinctly Canadian connection. President Martin Vizcarra recently spent some time as Peru’s ambassador to Canada. We’re happy to see him here at the helm in Lima, and we believe that he will be an excellent bridge-builder for this country. And that idea – the idea of building bridges – is an important one because that’s how we achieve progress. That’s how we move forward as leaders in politics, in business, and in society. The Organization of American States and the Summit of the Americas are perfect examples of just that: building bridges, sharing ideas, and working together to create growth throughout the Americas. That’s why we meet. That’s why we make these relationships a priority.
Together we’ve accomplished some pretty big things. Things that we couldn’t do alone. Here, trade is the obvious example. Over half of Canada’s free trade agreements currently in force are with countries in the Americas, and we have ambitious plans to build on that success in short order. We know that the trade deals of the future must address the very real concerns of citizens around the world. We must work toward trade that benefits everyone and delivers real, tangible benefits to our communities. That’s been Canada’s approach, and our partners in the Americas have tended to agree with us. The last few years have been busy to say the least. Peru, Mexico, and Chile recently joined Canada and other Pacific partners in the comprehensive and progressive agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership – a modern ambitious trade deal that puts people first.
We updated our free trade agreement with Chile to include gender rights, recognizing that when women and girls succeed, we create equality of opportunity while also growing the economy. Last summer, Canada was invited to become an associated state of the Pacific Alliance which includes Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia. This makes sense. In 2017, we did over $50 billion in true two-way merchandise trade with this block. We look forward to hosting the fourth round of negotiations in Ottawa next month, and strengthen our partnership to create more opportunities for businesses everywhere. Alongside our Mexican and American partners, we’re making progress on modernizing NAFTA for the current global economy. And, finally, just a few weeks ago, representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay were in Ottawa for the first round of negotiations on a Canada-Mercosur free trade agreement.
Our government also sees it as a vital national interest to open new markets for Canadian businesses and resources. That’s why, even in this age where the value of trade is being questioned by some, we have successfully negotiated landmark agreements with Europe and with Asia. It’s also why we’re sending a clear signal to the international investment community that big things can get done in Canada. We want to work with you to create good, middle-class jobs all over Canada.
My friends, it’s because of this progress and the increasing interconnectedness of our economies that North and South American companies are looking to Canada as a sound place to invest. Companies like Vale and Biolab Pharmaceuticals.
As business leaders yourselves, you recognize the importance of stability. Banking and legal systems must be sound. You understand the key to success in the modern economy is innovation. After all, the tried and true methods of the last decade won’t work for the next. To remain competitive, you need the brightest minds thinking outside the box, generating new solutions to complex problems; and you need to operate in a business climate that’s firing on all cylinders. I’m talking about low unemployment and strong economic growth.
Ladies and gentlemen, Canada represents an opportunity for each and every one of you for precisely those reasons. We have the lowest debt to GDP ratio in the G7. As business people, you know how important that is. Not to mention that our overall business costs are extremely competitive. So let’s say your interest is peaked. Working with Canada is a good idea. What’s next?
Well, we just recently launched a new “Invest in Canada” agency – a one-stop shop for international businesses looking to invest with us. And we’re very pleased that the CEO of “Invest in Canada” Ian McKay could be here with us today. And once you decide to invest, you can hit the ground running, without delay with our new global skills strategy that will allow you to bring top talent to Canada by processing work permits and associated visas in as little as two weeks. Once you’re set up, your goods and services will have unparalleled market access, our free trade agreements with much of the global economy mean that Canada is, for many of our business partners, a gateway to the world. In fact, once the CPTPP comes into force, companies operating in Canada will have preferential market access to 51 countries – countries representing 62% of global GDP and nearly 1.5 billion consumers.
Those numbers give Canada a huge advantage, but it’s about more than numbers of course. We know that the communities you invest and operate in need to be effective with the capacity to support both people and commerce. And Canada’s towns and cities are an excellent choice. Over the last few years, our government has made historic investments in infrastructure across the country, investments that will make our communities even more attractive places to live, work, and do business. We’re talking about top-notch public transit, affordable housing, and efficient trade corridors. And, as an aside, our friends from across the Americas and around the world can now be a part of these exciting investments in our communities and their future, because last year we launched the Canada Infrastructure Bank – a new way for private investors to partner with our government to finance these major projects.
In Canada, we know that successful companies can’t afford to stay stagnant. Innovation is key. Not just once or twice or not just every few years during a product launch, but constantly. Now Canada is already an extremely innovative country with global cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver leading the way in cutting-edge technologies and practices, which is thanks in large part to the diversity of our work force. But we know that we have to keep pushing the envelope, thinking bigger and bolder than ever before, and our investments in our people, our businesses and our institutions reflect that fundamental belief. Whether we’re investing in science or artificial intelligence, championing the development of clean technology, or cutting taxes for small businesses, our friends from around the world know that Canada is innovating for the future and investing for the long term.
Ladies and gentlemen, the changing nature of the global economy requires more integration and more partnership, not less. The digital economy designates the whole world a marketplace. Countries that collaborate lead the way together. For our people to get ahead, we need to remove trade barriers, integrate our supply chains and invest in one another. The Americas are tethered by geography, yes, but the ties that bind us are much greater than that. We are friends and we are partners rooted in the belief that success is best shared. For innovation and opportunity, for growth and investment, let us work together. A more prosperous world is the goal, and it is achievable.
Thank you very much. Muchos gracias a todos.