Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada at the Canada-China Business Forum

Beijing, China
9 February 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the following remarks at the Canada-China Business Forum:

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you, Peter, also for your kind introduction, and thank you to the Canada-China Business Forum for the opportunity to speak here today and also for organizing this impressive gathering of Canadian and Chinese business leaders. This is the fifth such forum that has been held, and I congratulate you for helping build stronger trade relations between Canada and China.

“I’m honoured to share the podium today with His Excellency Vice Premier Li, with whom I just concluded a cordial and productive meeting, I hope of the first of many to come.  That meeting is one of many I will be having with senior government officials during this trip, and I know that all of these meetings with Chinese leaders will help strengthen Canada-China relations.

“I also want to acknowledge representatives of the Canadian Chambers of Commerce of Shanghai and Hong Kong who are with us today, and greetings as well to Wan Jifei, Chair of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.  I’m very pleased to be back in China.

“It is an auspicious time – the beginning of the Year of the Dragon.  As the most exciting creature in the ancient Chinese zodiac, the dragon inspires confidence, energy and success, characteristics that also define the flourishing relationship between Canada and China.

“We have seen remarkable growth in two-way trade and investment, people-to-people ties, and bilateral cooperation over the past few years.  It is no accident, I think, that Canada and China came through the global recession avoiding the severity of the financial, economic and employment crises seen elsewhere.  Throughout this challenging period, our governments, our business leaders and our peoples have worked diligently to identify and to seize opportunities for expanding mutually beneficial trade and investment. There is a symmetry between our economic needs that is found among only a small number of our trading partners.

“Canada has the resources, technological sophistication, and geo-strategic positioning to complement China’s economic growth strategy, and China’s growth, in turn, complements our determination to diversify our export markets.  The proof is in the numbers, starting with investment.   Two-way investment has increased almost 700 percent during the last seven years. Canadian direct investment in China rose to nearly five billion dollars in 2010, up nearly 40 percent from the previous year. Chinese direct investment in Canada rose almost 10 percent in 2010, approaching 15 billion dollars.  These impressive numbers will only grow with yesterday’s conclusion of our new Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement.  It’s the same story for two-way trade.

“Thanks in part to our government’s investment in the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Canada’s lumber exports to China are setting records.  The ‘China-Canada Green Building Design Center in Langfang’ that I visited this morning is an impressive building.  It reminds us of a ski chalet, and it is one of the largest wood-frame buildings in China, but what is more important about it is that it is a demonstration project built entirely with Canadian lumber, Canadian products, and Canadian construction training.

“We expect to see similar success stories in Canadian energy exports to China, once infrastructure is in place.  Since the granting of Approved Destination Status during my last visit here, Chinese tourism to Canada is also flourishing.  In that regard, I was very pleased yesterday to attend the opening of the Canadian Tourism Commission’s office in Beijing, and to kick off their 2012 campaign. As well, Canadian beef exports have recently resumed after a 10-year hiatus.

“Globally, China is now Canada's second-largest trading partner. This 20 percent rise in our exports in 2010 is reflected in our government’s dramatic expansion of our trade commission network in China, helping Canadian companies capitalize on countless business opportunities. And speaking of business opportunities, I am honoured to be present at this business forum, and to have witnessed the signing of a significant number of commercial agreements just a few minutes ago. Together, the value of these 23 agreements is close to three billion dollars.

“Among the signatories are some very well-known Canadian corporate names.  The list includes: Bombardier, Canada’s renowned aircraft and commuter train manufacturer which has won several contracts to supply rail cars and other technologies for Chinese public transit systems, Telus and Bell, two of Canada’s largest telecommunications service providers will upgrade their networks here, and ClevrU Corporation has developed an internet-based remote learning package that will increase access to education.

“Also yesterday, in the Great Hall of the People, Premier Wen and I reached a number of important agreements.  The cumulative impact of these accords truly takes Canada-China relations to a new level.  They deal with air transportation, and double taxation.

“We renewed an earlier Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation.  We secured a deepening of our Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, and we have agreed to jointly fund science, technology and innovation research into human vaccines, and clean transportation. I’m therefore pleased that we have also agreed that following the completion of the joint study on economic complimentaries later this spring, Canada and China will proceed to exploratory discussion to further deepening our economic and trade relations. Further diversifying our trade relations has the potential of greatly expanding Canadian growth and Canadian job creation. They also signal the growing engagement between our people at every level, from tourism and student exchanges, to partnerships among business leaders, to relationships between senior government leaders such as myself and Vice-Premier Li.

“In the long run, it is these personal connections that will define our relationship. The more Canada and China do business together, the more we build our cultural networks, the more we collaborate in international forums, the deeper I’m convinced our friendship will become.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a goal worth striving for. Thank you.”