Keynote address at the B20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia
It’s great that the B20 is here in Indonesia this year. Indonesia’s rapid growth presents enormous opportunities for investors and businesses. I just arrived from Cambodia, where we announced that we are elevating Canada’s relationship with ASEAN to a strategic partnership. This is a strong demonstration of our engagement in the region, and it’s part of our plan to expand our economic ties in a big way. Last week, we announced Canada’s upcoming Indo-Pacific Strategy.
The Indo-Pacific is the fastest growing economic region in the world. It’s an increasingly critical hub for trade and for creating good jobs now and for the future.
We’re deepening our existing friendships in the region, seeking new allies, and promoting stability, and we know that business leaders like you are key to our individual and collective success. We also know that global businesses and commerce need the predictability and reliability that the international rules-based order establishes. This is something that Canada will always stand up for. Canada’s message is clear; we have the values that make us a solid, reliable partner. We have the raw materials and trade access, and we have a skilled, educated, ambitious and diverse workforce like no other.
We’re making major investments in the Indo-Pacific that will strengthen our engagement here in the long term. For example, we’re investing in a new Canadian trade gateway in Southeast Asia that will help Canadian businesses expand into new markets, linking them to business networks in this dynamic region. Canada and the Indo-Pacific region also share strong ties between our people, and we’ll make these ties even stronger.
Today, we’re announcing an agreement between Canada and India that will allow an unlimited number of flights between our two countries. By making the movement of goods and people faster and easier, we’ll facilitate trade and investment between Canada and India and help our businesses grow and succeed.
Every issue that matters to the world and to Canadians, be it security, prosperity, human rights, public health, or climate change, these issues will be influenced by Canada’s and our partners’ relationships with Indo-Pacific countries. I am pleased to be here in Indonesia today to continue this work.
As you all know, the world is changing fast, and over the past couple of years, we have been facing enormous challenges that are further accelerating this change. During the pandemic, we all had to adjust. Kids and teachers moved their classes online, small businesses shifted to e-commerce, and everyone adapted as best they could. After a virtual G20 in 2020, being able to gather in Rome in person last year gave us hope that things were finally getting back to normal. But of course, that’s not exactly what happened, did it? Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine is creating food and energy crises. It’s disrupting supply chains and raising the cost of living. Families are worried that they’re not going to be able to put food on the table or won’t be able to heat their homes during winter.
These challenges are real, and only through collaboration between business and governments and civil society can we create real, lasting solutions, and technology, if used right, is definitely a tool that will help us build a better future for everyone. But whenever we talk about industry 4.0 and the prosperity that it can unlock, we have to remember to always put people at the centre of everything we do. Technology keeps getting better, and that’s great, but at the same time, technology needs to make people’s lives better too.
The pandemic has shown the critical role that technology plays in our lives. More than ever, we must seize the opportunities presented by the digital economy if we want to build a more prosperous future.
Emerging technologies are radically transforming businesses and business models and unleashing new market opportunities. High-tech, quantum, and AI are Canadian strengths. Canada is not only the most educated country in the OECD, but our strong world-leading immigration policies are attracting highly skilled talent in competitive industries. In fact, Toronto and Vancouver have seen the highest high-tech job growth in North America over the past two years. New technologies can make global economies and international trade more accessible for people everywhere, but we have to make sure that the benefits don’t just accrue to the wealthiest. We have to make sure that smaller businesses and economies can fully access the global marketplace. We have to make sure that smaller businesses and economies can fully access the global marketplace.
If we want to level the playing field, we must cooperate through the sharing of information and best practices. We must identify and develop common standards. For example, Canada is leading on the responsible development and use of artificial intelligence. We’re also undertaking major legislative reforms that will strengthen privacy protections for Canadians, including specific provisions to protect children. See, while always ensuring and defending free speech, we must make it clear that it cannot be okay to bully and attack people online. Governments, and especially big technology companies, need to safeguard people’s data and privacy, and address online harassment and violence to ensure trust in technology.
At home, we’re focused on creating good, sustainable middle-class jobs now and into the future. Canada has some of the best, most talented workers in the world. These are the people with the skills and expertise to power our shared net-zero future. I think of the innovators who are launching clean hydrogen projects everywhere, from Newfoundland to Alberta. These are the people who will produce the clean energy that Canada will ship to German markets as Europe accelerates its transition to renewables away from Russian oil and gas. I think of our autoworkers who are building electric vehicles in Ontario with batteries built in Quebec from nickel and lithium mined in northern Canada, and the steel and the aluminum they’re using, also made in Canada, is the cleanest in the world because Canada’s electricity grid is already over 80% clean, and on our way to 100.
And that matters not just in the fight against climate change, but it matters because increasingly, clients and customers are asking to know the impact of their products, of what they’re sourcing. It is an imperative, it is a business advantage to be going cleaner and greener. And that’s what Canada and so many of you here fully understand. To build a net-zero future, our Canadian workers are at the heart of our success.
Later this year, we’ll be releasing our Sustainable Jobs Plan, a roadmap for our own just transition. Or in plainer language, our plan to make sure workers have the skills they need to succeed in the economy of today and tomorrow. This builds on years of work our government has been doing to ensure that workers and citizens see that being open to the world can be good for them, not just good for the economy. That’s how Canada has been able to avoid the protectionism rising around the world these past few years and sign a record number of trade deals, and that’s how Canada remains the only G7 country with a free trade deal with every other G7 country.
In Canada -- and this is also true here in the Indo-Pacific and around the world -- there is a growing demand for circular economy initiatives. Companies view net zero as foundational. This presents an opportunity, not only for business development, exports and partnerships, but for capacity building. Global investors have always thought about Canada for our resources, but you should also think about Canada for our resourcefulness. That’s our true competitive advantage. Canada is rapidly becoming the energy and tech supplier a net-zero world will need because Canadians have the skills a net-zero world will demand.
The world is changing fast, but Canada’s core values like peace, democracy, stability, respect for human rights, are here to stay. In the face of many challenges, like the rising cost of living caused by global inflation, we must continue to put people and workers first. Business leaders like you all know full well that social infrastructure is just as important as building good roads, bridges. In Canada, we’re investing in programs like $10 a day childcare to make sure that parents and especially mothers don’t have to choose between their family and their career. We’ve made increases to the federal minimum wage; we’ve made income benefits more generous for low-income workers.
The measures taken by our government have also allowed our country to reduce inequality in a historic way.
Smart business leaders understand that you need to invest in workers and people for you to remain competitive. How you support, empower, retain, and grow your workforce is central to success these days. Well, that’s how governments need to think and operate too. When we support the middle class, when we put people at the centre of our policies, we create the conditions for growth and the consensus to make real change on issues that matter to everyone, like tackling climate change.
And that’s what you can always count on from Canada, as together, we build a more prosperous world for everyone.
Thank you, friends.