Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, I want to thank all of you for having invited me this morning.
I am happy to be joined by Ms. Alexandra Bugailiskis, Assistant Deputy Minister at Global Affairs Canada for Europe, the Middle East and the Maghreb.
I am sure you will all agree that the relationship our country entertains with the European continent will be particularly crucial in next few years, both because of the opportunities Europe offers us and the challenges we will both have to face. We will meet these challenges more effectively if Canadians and Europeans work closely together.
I will begin by speaking of the opportunities.
Europe is nothing less than the world's second-largest market, with over 500 million consumers and a GDP of $21 trillion. We are speaking about the world's largest importer of aerospace products, fish and seafood, oil and gas products, telecommunications, and computer and information services. It's the world's second-largest importer of automotive goods, and Canada has less than 1% of that business today. It is the second-largest importer of medical devices and pharmaceutical products, and our second-largest customer of metals and minerals.
We need to make sure that the comprehensive economic and trade agreement is a success, not just a signed agreement. It must be a reality on the ground that will provide jobs for our workers and investments for our economy.
Today only 26% of EU tariff lines on Canadian goods are duty free. With CETA, 98% of EU tariff lines will be duty free for Canadian goods. For example, after tariffs as high as 10% are cut, exporters of Canadian forestry products will have an opportunity to increase their EU market share.
CETA will open new agriculture and agri-food market opportunities for Canadian exporters, with almost 94% of EU agriculture tariffs becoming duty free. The EU annual infrastructure outlay is estimated at $400 billion, larger than that of the United States. The EU has earmarked hundreds of billions of euros for transportation, energy, and broadband projects by 2020. CETA is, for us, a golden opportunity to succeed in this huge market.
CETA is more than a welcome lever for our economic growth. It is also the opportunity to show our population and the world that trade and societal progress may go hand in hand. There is no need to choose between trade and progress. It is the way to pull together our ability to share the best practices for social justice, environmental sustainability, labour rights, food safety, and so on.
I will now move from the opportunities to the challenges.
Those the European Union faces were summarized quite recently by Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and I quote: “The second threat, an internal one, is connected with the rise in anti-EU, nationalist, increasingly xenophobic sentiment in the EU itself. [...] A decline of faith in political integration, submission to populist arguments, as well as doubt in the fundamental values of liberal democracy are all increasingly visible.”
Ladies and gentlemen members of Parliament, Canada and Europe are facing issues that know no borders, and which they will resolve better together.
Our demographic weight is declining in the world, and our population is aging. Consequently, our productivity and efficiency have to increase.
Our populations are becoming more diverse and more heterogeneous. In light of that, let us make diversity our strength, more than ever before.
Gender equality has not yet been achieved. Consequently, let us find inspiration in the best breakthroughs in Canada and in Europe.
The globalization of markets and automation are leaving behind whole categories of workers. Consequently, let us find a path together to inclusive growth.
Our planet can no longer tolerate the ravages of self-destructive development. Consequently, let us together find a path to sustainable development.
Our vast common neighbour, Russia, worries us. Consequently, let us strengthen our common defence with the United States, while resolutely conducting the necessary dialogue. Let us also strengthen co-operation in order to meet the common terrorist threat.
Not only will our free trade agreement help us, Europeans and Canadians, to meet these challenges together, but of the fact that Europeans and Canadians are now officially strategic partners will also help us to do so.
Indeed, in addition to CETA, we have also just concluded a strategic partnership agreement. This agreement encompasses key parts of our bilateral and multilateral co-operation, such as peace and security, clean energy and climate change, the promotion of human rights, sustainable development, and science and innovation.
As we can see, the relationship between Europe and Canada is truly at a crucial time. To maximize our chances of success, the is convinced that a new resource is needed: a senior diplomat to Europe playing an overarching role in advancing Canada's interests throughout Europe, ensuring coherence across the activities of Canadian diplomatic missions, and providing guidance to the Prime Minister.
The Canadian presence in Europe is presently in 32 countries through 36 bilateral missions, in addition to eight multilateral missions. The wants the senior diplomat to help him, the government, the , and all our ambassadors and missions pull together Canada's pan-European efforts. The Prime Minister wants this diplomat to be posted in one of the key European countries, and from there, ensure a more cohesive diplomacy aimed at advancing our shared interests with the whole of Europe.
Among these key European countries, Germany is an excellent choice in which to anchor this new diplomatic resource, if only because it is Europe's leading economic power: its GDP of more than $4 billion represents 21% of the GDP of the European Union.
As a G7, G20, and NATO partner, Germany co-operates with Canada across a range of issue areas, such as transnational relations, Russia and Ukraine, counterterrorism, the global fight against Daesh, and migration. As the ambassador to Germany, I will be working extremely hard, supported by our strong and professional mission, to strengthen this key economic and political relationship, which is key not only for our goals in Europe but in fact across the globe.
The Prime Minister has asked me to be this principal diplomat, as ambassador to Germany and as his special envoy to the European Union and Europe. I have accepted that responsibility. I have prepared actively for it over the past weeks, and I am anxious to leave for Europe and undertake this important task, for the prime minister, the government, and my country. I know that expectations are high, not only in Canada, but also in Europe.
In the letter they just wrote to the to welcome my appointment, the presidents for the European Council and for the European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, said that this appointment “affords us the chance to take those relations to a new level” and to “champion our shared values of freedom, human rights and democracy as well as our shared dedication to the market economy, so as to drive forward our common interests in a period of unprecedented challenges.”
I will do everything I can to rise to these expectations. I am eager to take up my responsibilities and I know that in this journey, I will always benefit from the advice and hard work of this committee.
Merci beaucoup. Thank you very much. Danke schön.
Congratulations to my friend and colleague of many years. I don't share the skepticism of my opposition colleagues with respect to the wisdom of your appointment, particularly with respect to its strategic position. Frequently, ambassadors are focused on their own domains, and as I would understand your position, it is to take a bit of a 35,000-foot look, if you will.
The is fond of saying that our unity is in our diversity. In Europe, it seems to work in the reverse, or at least right now it seems to be working in the reverse, and you come in at a time when the European Union is undergoing significant stresses and strains.
One of the strains at a very high level is whether it continues to be an Atlantic relationship or whether it spins off, if you will, in some parts, to the south or to the east, particularly with Russian influence. The Atlantic relationship is a non-starter unless the Americans are vigorous in their pursuit of Europe. Under the current administration, the Americans seem somewhat less enthusiastic about Europe. In particular, their not pursuing the trade agreement would be an example. This has enormous implications, probably within your term.
My question is about whether you've had any conversations with your American counterparts about the role that America chooses or doesn't choose to play in this Atlantic relationship.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's a real pleasure for me to be back. I've been in China for five weeks. I think it's a great position, but this place gets in one's blood a bit, so I'm always pleased to return. I guess my theory is that part of my job is persuading China, but part of my job is persuading Canada. It's good to be in both places. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to all of you today.
To get to the core of things, it's a fantastic time for Canada to strengthen its ties with China. As I'll explain, we have much to gain through building stronger ties with China, and the , the cabinet, and stakeholders across the country are keen to do just that. It takes two to tango, and I have a strong sense that the Chinese are also keen to work with us. Since the stars will not always be aligned so positively, now is the time to seize the moment and be ambitious. Now is the time to act. That, with the support of the government, is exactly what I am planning to do.
Let me start at the beginning. Within 24 hours of arriving in China I was invited to present my credentials to President Xi Jinping. I conveyed to him a message from our that can be summarized in three words, “More, more, more”, or in Mandarin, “Gèng duo, gèng duo, gèng duo”. I'm having six hours a week of Mandarin lessons to improve my skills in that area. We want, in both directions, more trade, more investment, more tourists, more students, more co-operation in every conceivable area. The president seemed to like that sentiment.
I would point out to you that “More, more, more” also translates into more jobs for Canadians, because every time we have more tourists from China, more exports to China, more investment in Canada from China, that has a strong tendency to create jobs in Canada.
I also explained to the president, in my very poor Mandarin, something that some of you may have heard, that my affinity to China can be explained by three numbers: 100, 50, 40. My wife is 100% Chinese, my three boys are 50% Chinese, and the good people of Markham, who elected me for 16 years, are 40% Chinese. The president smiled and he said, “No need for translation”, I subsequently learned, so I like to think he understood what I said.
Look, China's a two-way street. Before elaborating on why I think there's so much to gain, I also want to comment on the fact that there are many issues on which Canada and China disagree. We disagree on the death penalty. We disagree on some aspects of the rule of law, and privately and publicly on how the Chinese government treats human rights advocates. We have a continuing keen interest in the integrity of Hong Kong's autonomous institutions under the “one country, two systems” formula. That's why the consular side of my job is critical, and also why, in my first six weeks on the job, I spent time meeting and supporting an LGBTQ group in Shanghai, female entrepreneurs in a group working to counter domestic violence in Beijing, and a woman called Ching Tien, whose organization, Educating Girls of Rural China, has done fantastic work in educating low-income girls over many years.
That side of the job is very important, but in particular I'd like to take this opportunity to address head-on an issue that has generated some controversy among Canadians, namely, Canada's decision to discuss extradition issues with China. While we are a long way from negotiating an extradition treaty with China, we've agreed to talk about the issues that need to be addressed for China or any other country to meet our high standards. This includes things like the death penalty and the importance of high standards of evidence in court proceedings. We lose nothing by explaining our system and talking about the values we hold dear.
Let me now come to the other side of the coin, the more positive side as to why China is important to Canada. China is the world's largest emitter of CO2, but it's also the world's biggest investor in renewable energy, investing $103 billion U.S. in 2015, which is more than two and a half times what the United States invested.
If Canada is serious about climate change, which we are, and if we're serious about selling our clean-tech innovations to the world, which we are, then we have no choice but to engage China. China also has 20% of the world's women and girls, and China is increasingly a key player in places like Africa, which face real challenges to women's health and education. If we want to improve the plight of women and girls around the world, then China is a key partner. The same can be said on working with China in the area of peacekeeping.
Also, if we want to engage positively on North Korea and other regional and security issues, we need to work with China.
Fentanyl is the cause of a major public health crisis in Canada with over 1,000 deaths. Many of those drugs come from China. If we want to address this crisis, we must work with China. I might say, the Chinese government has co-operated well in working with us on this crisis.
Last but not least, if we want jobs and prosperity for Canadians, then once again China is an essential partner.
Whether we're talking about climate change, the plight of women and girls, the Fentanyl issue, peace and security issues, or the prosperity of Canadians, in all of these cases China is a key partner.
Let me turn quickly, because I think I'm running out of time, to some of the key economic issues.
In my opinion, tourism may be the priority. It's a matter of numbers. I visited Guangzhou, it is one of China's second or third major cities. It has a population of 10 million people.
President Xi has said that over the next five years, there will be 700 million Chinese tourists. Consequently, the opportunities for Canada are enormous, and it is absolutely clear that an increase in the number of Chinese tourists will create a lot of jobs in Canada.
I mention briefly other economic sectors that are of great importance. Wood products, had a very successful and well-timed visit to China last week, where we spoke to a number of government and private sector wood people and I think we made good progress in terms of increasing Canada's exports of forest products to China.
On agri-food, we are number five now in China. We could become number three, if we work hard. There's a huge demand for healthy, nutritious food, such as comes from Canada.
Clean-tech and environment is another major opportunity. China and Canada are both signatories to the Paris agreement. China has important environmental and energy-efficiency objectives, so there are good opportunities in that area.
Education has always been a pillar of our relationship, and that is scoped to blossom even further.
Ministers, , , and are working to enhance our ties in their own areas of culture, sports, health, and defence.
Finally, e-commerce is critical. We all know that small and medium-sized companies don't often export very much, even to the United States, let alone to China. China is a leader in e-commerce. The has spoken to Jack Ma, head of Alibaba. I have spoken to him. We are working together to get more Canadian small companies to get onto the Chinese e-commerce system, which will be a very important way to increase exports to China.
Mr. Chair, I will leave it at that.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.
Let me just go back to your point about the new Chinese ambassador to Canada.
I've seen the transcript of his interview, and it was somewhat taken out of context by the media reports. That being said, it is very clear that national security concerns are of great importance to the government and that whenever a Chinese investment, or investment from any country, is proposed that carries security concerns, it has to go through rigorous review. That has not changed.
In terms of the rules governing state-owned enterprises in Canada that you mentioned, those had been changed by the previous government. They have not been changed back. That could be an issue in a free trade negotiation, but no decision at all has been made. That point has not been raised by the Chinese with me to date.
In terms of my conversation with President Xi, it was less than five minutes and it was largely scripted, so I did not specifically on that occasion raise the question of those issues that you raised. They are, nevertheless, of critical importance to the government, as I indicated in my remarks. I know that raised those issues with his counterpart.
I have served three Canadian Liberal prime ministers in their cabinets, Chrétien, Martin, and Trudeau—Trudeau two—and I know that in each of those cases, they have spoken frankly and freely to their Chinese counterparts about Canadian concerns over human rights and other such matters.