I'm calling to order meeting number 21 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade.
Today's meeting is taking place in a hybrid format, pursuant to the House order of November 25, 2021.
As per the directive of the Board of Internal Economy on March 10, 2022, all those attending the meeting in person must wear a mask, except for members who are at their place during proceedings.
I'd like to make a few comments for the benefit of witnesses and members.
Please wait until I recognize you by name before speaking. For those participating by video conference, please click on your microphone icon to activate your mike, and please mute yourself when you are not speaking. For those participating via Zoom, you have interpretation options at the bottom of your screen of either the floor, English or French.
As a reminder to you, all comments have to go through the chair.
To all members, welcome to our Monday meeting.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Monday, March 21, 2022, the committee is resuming its study on trade opportunities for Canadian businesses in the Indo-Pacific region.
Today we have with us, from the Embassy of Canada to the Philippines, His Excellency Peter MacArthur, ambassador; from the Embassy of Canada to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, His Excellency Shawn Steil, ambassador; from the High Commission to the Republic of Singapore, His Excellency Jean-Dominique Ieraci, high commissioner; and from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada, Henry Chi-Hung Liu, executive director, economic division. Welcome to you all.
We will start with opening remarks from Ambassador MacArthur.
I invite you to make an opening statement of up to five minutes, please.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
This will be a transitional year for the Philippines. On June 30, the country's new president, vice-president, and many members of congress, will take office following the May 9 national elections.
At 110 million people, mainly young people, the Philippines is the second most populous country in the ASEAN region, and ranks seventh among the 21 APEC member economies. It stands out in terms of its geographic, geostrategic position, and as the world's third largest Catholic country.
The capital, Manila, is head office for the Asian Development Bank, a regional institution of which Canada is the fourth largest non-borrowing shareholder. ADB-financed projects represent business opportunities for Canadian firms operating across the Indo-Pacific.
We share strong people to people bonds not found with any other Southeast Asian country. The Philippines consistently ranks as a top three immigration source. There are an estimated one million Canadians of Filipino origin. Filipino migrants are crucial to Canada's labour market and economic prosperity. Canada is seen as an excellent host for overseas Filipino workers in sectors such as food processing and maritime shipping. They remit an estimated $2 billion Canadian back to Filipino families every year.
Helped by strong macroeconomic indicators and stable credit ratings, the Philippines is expected to emerge from the pandemic as one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia. In 2019, GDP growth exceeded that of Indonesia and rivalled that of China. However, 2020 saw a 10% GDP contraction due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, GDP bounced back growth in 2021 and exceeded expectations at 5.6%. The economic outlook for 2022 is optimistic, as the ADB is forecasting growth at 6%. This has attracted the interest of some Canadian pension funds.
To increase competitiveness, a recent series of economic reform legislation has been passed, including corporate tax cuts, and steps to open up the economy in order to establish a more predictable business environment. At the same time, with the support of the Philippines, Canada and ASEAN launched FTA negotiations.
Despite the pandemic, the Canada-Philippine trade relationship continues to expand, standing at $3 billion, balanced roughly between $2 billion in merchandise trade and $1 billion in services trade. Canadian direct investment in the Philippines is more than $3 billion Canadian, led by a longstanding market presence in the insurance and business processing sectors, as well as in mining, software, engineering and food sectors.
Canada and the Philippines recently established a joint economic commission. The commission, which will include the voice of business through chambers of commerce, is going to provide a platform to foster closer business relationships in sectors where demand matches our competitive niches, such as within the aerospace sector, including the building of business aircraft and training simulators together with maintenance, repair, and overhaul.
Moreover, with regard to agriculture, the Philippines is Canada's second largest market in the region for products such as meat, pulses, oilseeds, grains, fish and seafood, animal feed ingredients, as well as processed food. Market access issues, particularly affecting agri-food exports, are an obstacle, necessitating constant vigilance and high level intervention by the embassy and the Government of Canada.
In clean technologies, there are key opportunities, including renewable energy and emerging interests in nuclear power. With regard to climate finance, there is early retirement of coal plants as an example of climate change interventions.
In defence and security, there is continued military equipment modernization, particularly air and sea capacity, due to increased South China Sea security concerns.
In infrastructure, Canada has just launched a new government-to-government initiative to help our industry penetrate this market, leveraging Canadian Commercial Corporation, and working closely with the trade commissioner service and Export Development Canada.
In information and communications technology, as an example of our embassy efforts, we are sending a Filipino business delegation to the Collision conference in Toronto later this June. It is composed of 45 Filipino venture capitalists, investors, and tech buyers interested in subsectors, such as medtech, fintech, and cybersecurity. Creative industries and edtech sectors are also promising.
Mining is back in business with the lifting of the open pit mining ban in an effort to source critical minerals. Canada's towards sustainable mining CSR protocols are expected to be adopted by leading mining producers, and will be required to be more environmentally and socially responsible.
In education, in 2021, the Philippines moved up to become our fourth source of foreign students, benefiting colleges and universities right across our country. We saw a doubling in two years to more than 14,000 students right across Canada.
There remain challenges and risks, such as lack of transparency, corruption, intellectual property violations, an inefficient court system, protectionism, and susceptibility to political interference. Competition from other countries is fierce.
Finally, on the job-creating, investment-in-Canada front, I can report that Jollibee, the Philippines' most prominent fast-food chain and Asia's largest food service company, has opened more than 20 restaurants right across Canada. Each restaurant is estimated to create approximately 80 to 120 jobs and approximately $2.2 million in capital expenditures.
Madam Chair, that completes my opening statement.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I reported for duty as Canada's Ambassador to Vietnam on May 3 and presented my credentials on May 26. I come to this position after more than four years as executive director for Greater China, an experience that offers an important perspective on Vietnam and its region.
After a difficult two years of pandemic restrictions, and thanks to a remarkably successful vaccine campaign, Vietnam is leading economic recovery in the region. Over the short one month since I arrived in Hanoi, economic and social activity, including international travel and business, has accelerated at a remarkable pace. The successful hosting of the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi last month exemplified this rapid opening.
Economic and industrial indicators suggest that this country of almost 100 million people is poised to accelerate its growth in the near term even under difficult external conditions. Canadians, recognizing the opportunity and the need to diversify from difficult and unpredictable markets in the region, are responding.
I have already met a number of Canadian firms and institutions on the ground setting a common refrain: Vietnam is our best option for diversifying and we want to be first back in the market.
That shouldn't surprise us. Vietnam is Canada's largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, the 10th largest in the world. Since the conclusion of the CPTPP, bilateral trade is booming, reaching $10.5 billion in two-way trade in 2021 despite the pandemic. While most of that recent growth has been in Vietnamese exports, they do pave the way for a maturing trade relationship with many opportunities for Canada.
In the agriculture and agri-food sector, including seafood, a growing middle class is driving demand for high-quality foods and the CPTPP has levelled the playing field for Canadian suppliers. Canadian meat exports in particular have grown fourfold since the agreement came into effect in 2019.
Vietnam is a country that's among the world's most vulnerable to climate change. At COP26 the Government of Vietnam surprised many by committing to net neutrality by 2050. Its growing industry and energy demands make this commitment an enormous challenge, and an opportunity for Canada and Canadian businesses to provide clean technology and clean energy solutions.
Vietnam is also one of Canada's most important sources of international students. Education exchanges are rebounding quickly, and Canadian institutions see opportunities to grow both partnerships and student enrolment with Vietnam.
Canadian firms have a significant presence in Vietnam's insurance sector with major Canadian firms active and growing in the market.
Opportunities in aerospace, life sciences, health care and ICT are abundant and on the rise.
In January 2022 Canada and Vietnam established a joint economic committee, a mechanism dedicated to advancing trade and economic co-operation between Canada and Vietnam. Meetings of this committee will provide an ongoing opportunity to discuss current and emerging trade and commercial issues, and help unlock further potential.
Canada's commercial relationship with Vietnam is nested in and benefits from Canada's broader engagement in the country. In keeping with the comprehensive partnership launched in 2017, Canada's engagement with Vietnam has grown across the board. We now have established formal exchanges in diplomacy and foreign policy, events and security, international co-operation with Canadian contributions to inclusive growth, climate change solutions, and regulatory affairs.
Our Embassy in Hanoi and consulate general in Ho Chi Minh City are home to 110 employees from multiple government agencies, as well as provincial representatives. We anticipate continuing growth to match the demands and meet the opportunities for Canadian business in Vietnam.
Vietnam is a one-party state with significant government involvement in decision-making over the economy. According to the World Bank, achieving its ambitious goal of reaching high-income status by 2050 will require further opening and institutional reform. Engagement at the government-to-government level across the range of tools at our disposal will be important for Canada's continued success in this vibrant market now and over the long term.
In 2023 Canada and Vietnam will mark 50 years of diplomatic relations well positioned for further co-operation based on our common interests.
Good afternoon, Madam Chair.
Singapore is one of the countries most open to trade in the world. This developed and politically stable country of 5.4 million people serves as a hub for regional trade thanks to its first-class infrastructure. Its city-state is the main regional financial centre. It is easy to do business here, as the rules are clear and the rule of law prevails. The common language is English.
All these features contribute to the fact that many Canadian companies have made Singapore their primary market in Southeast Asia. It’s also the main focus of their operations in the region.
Since Singapore is a trade hub and part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, there are essentially no barriers to entry for Canadian products and services. Despite the modest size of its market, Singapore offers significant business opportunities for Canada because of the average wealth of its citizens and its appetite for adopting new technologies. Also, with no natural resources and very limited space, Singapore must import virtually all its food and energy.
Finally, foreign multinationals’ top regional executives are based in Singapore, where they often make their purchasing decisions for their Southeast Asian operations.
The pandemic did not spare Singapore, but its economy has already rebounded in 2021 with gross domestic product growth of 7.6%. In 2021, Canada exported $1.2 billion worth of goods to Singapore and imported $1 billion. Canada exports nearly $1 billion more in services and imports $2.6 billion. In Southeast Asia, Singapore is the largest investor in Canada and the largest recipient of Canadian investment in the region.
The Canadian High Commission in Singapore has 85 employees from several government departments, including representatives from British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Export Development Canada, or EDC, and Quebec both have independent offices there.
The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in Singapore focuses on agriculture, information technology, education, aerospace, life sciences and sustainable technologies. We also administer a technology accelerator, a mentorship program and an investment attraction program. Singapore hosts major business events, including last week’s Asia Tech x Singapore, the Singapore Airshow, the FinTech Festival and Singapore International Water Week. We organize hundreds of business matches with Singaporean and regional contacts through these activities.
For example, visited us on May 24 and 25. One of the things she announced was Canada’s intention to launch a design study for a gateway to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and take advantage of Singapore’s hub status.
Madam Chair, I thank you and the committee for your attention to the region and to Singapore.
Honourable Chair and distinguished members of the committee, good afternoon.
My name is Henry Liu, and I am the executive director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada, based in Ottawa. We welcome this timely study, which will contribute to enhancing Canada's ties with the Indo-Pacific regions, including Taiwan.
The bilateral economic relation between Taiwan and Canada is growing strongly. According to Statistics Canada, our two-way trade surpassed $10 billion Canadian in 2021, growing by 39% compared with 2020. This ranks Taiwan as Canada's fifth-largest trading partner in Asia. Taiwan is also Canada's 16th-largest export market globally.
The Indo-Pacific region will be the engine of global economic growth. Thus, a commitment to closer engagement with Indo-Pacific partners is more relevant than ever. Canada has initiated an Indo-Pacific strategy, while Taiwan has launched its new southbound policy to boost its ties with the countries of South and Southeast Asia. These two policies are quite complementary and will open new avenues of co-operation.
Taiwan's long-standing partnership with Canada is critical to our mutual objectives and shared interests, including our efforts to work with like-minded partners to safeguard freedom, democracy and human rights, as well as to stimulate inclusive prosperity through economic co-operation and trade in the Indo-Pacific region.
We can strengthen this synergy by providing our economic operators a set of more transparent, predictable and facilitating trade and investment rules. On January 10, 2022, our trade ministers agreed to begin exploratory discussions as a first step toward potential negotiations for a bilateral investment agreement, known here as FIPA. We hope that Taiwan and Canada can fully launch negotiations on a FIPA soon.
Taiwan is the world's 18th-largest importing country, with 23 million consumers of high purchasing power. Canada can benefit a lot from more favourable market access into the Taiwanese market. Taiwan officially submitted its accession application to the CPTPP last September. Taiwan is committed to upholding the high standards of the CPTPP. We respectfully request Canada's support for Taiwan's accession application.
Taiwan's CPTPP membership and FIPA with Canada will help increase regional economic momentum and bring Taiwan-Canada trade relations to the next level. In this era of geopolitical uncertainty and supply chain realignments, Canada and Taiwan can work together to increase their supply chain resilience.
Canada has long been a reliable and secure source of quality agricultural products for Taiwan, bringing our consumers more diverse choices and enhancing our food security. In addition, Canada's proposed up to $3.8 billion in support over eight years to implement Canada's first critical mineral strategy. Already, Taiwan's increasing demand of critical minerals has attracted more imports from reliable sources, including Canada.
Canadian exports of cobalt to Taiwan grew 186% in 2021, compared to the year before. The Canadian cobalt market share in Taiwan increased from 3% in 2012 to 25% in 2021. Taiwan wishes to expand its relationship with Canada as a close friend, democratic partner and trusted ally. We look forward to continued engagement with our Canadian partners to sustain and strengthen our bilateral relations.
Thank you very much for inviting me today. I will be happy to answer your questions.
Thank you for the question.
I think this is a very important question, especially when Canada is going forward in its EV industry, electric vehicles. There will be more microchips in your cars, which means the demand for microchips will keep on going. Also, at the same time, the supply chain of microchips is very long and complicated.
I will say there is a lot of opportunity for Taiwan and Canada to work together. For example, the largest company from Taiwan, TSMC, already has a design centre in Canada. That's in addition to the U.S. This is the only one on the American continent.
I have visited the research centre and asked the same questions as you. I was told, first, that Canada and Taiwan can have a lot of mutual support. For example, when you are moving into the next stage, you want to incorporate more technology into the microchips so they will be multi-tasking. For example, Canada is very good in AI, but how do you incorporate AI into the chips? That will be very important. That will be the determining factor of your competitiveness. In this case, I would say the software engineers should work directly with the Taiwanese chipmakers. In this way, there's no need to go through very complicated and different layers of suppliers. In that case, you can have your design already embedded in these microchips, which means that Taiwan can provide the microchips which are really reflecting Canadian technology and making sure you have the leading edge.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
This is my first time taking the mike today, and I just want to acknowledge for the record that today is the one year anniversary of the death of the Afzaal family in London, which is a matter of concern to all members of Parliament. There are commemorations taking place not just to think about that family and that loss, but also to take action on Islamophobia.
That said, I want to say thank you to all of the witnesses for being here, those who are present, Mr. Liu, and those joining us virtually.
I want to start perhaps with Mr. Shawn Steil, the ambassador to Vietnam, and just touch upon something that he mentioned. I seized upon it when you indicated that it was with some surprise that the international community noted that Vietnam had made that commitment at COP to achieve net zero by 2050. Obviously there are a lot of synergies there between our government's position on net zero, tackling climate change, and what Vietnam is embracing.
Can you talk to us a little bit about solar in particular? We're conscious of the fact that Vietnam is the second largest producer of the solar photovoltaic module. The Canadian share of electricity production for rewnewables has risen during the last decade. Where can we tap into that commonality of purpose and interest using Vietnamese technological know-how to leverage further aspects of our trade in the renewable sector?
Go ahead, Ambassador Steil.
On that point, I would just say that it was critical that we put our governmental support behind the forced labour bill that just came out of the Senate, Bill . We've also committed to dealing with forced labour in supply chains as part of 's mandate letter, and also power—namely coal, as you noted—is something that we've been working on for the last three or four years.
If I could just pivot to something, I'll ask both you, Ambassador Steil, and you, Mr. Liu, if you could comment.
You raised, Ambassador Steil, the point that international students are an aspect of our engagement across borders.
Mr. Liu, you addressed it slightly differently, but you said that we can leverage Canadian software know-how and our engineering and AI expertise to develop the relationship with Taiwan. I immediately thought of Waterloo engineers, for example, near my hometown of Toronto.
Could both of you take a turn at addressing how we leverage ties between our educational institutions and our students as an aspect of trade and how that can turn into more positive trade developments?
Perhaps we'll have Ambassador Steil first, and then Mr. Liu.
Thank you very much for that question.
Indeed, that is something we monitor very closely, Madam Chair. I'm happy to report that over the past several years, the Mining Association of Canada has been developing, directly with the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and in a very methodical manner, the introduction of the “Towards Sustainable Mining” protocol for corporate social responsibility with leading mining companies. I've been involved through webinars throughout the pandemic in the introduction of this new approach to support environmental, labour and community relations. Indeed, this is in response to President Duterte's essentially closing down the sector when he was elected in 2016, until, as he said, Australian and Canadian corporate social responsibility protocols were adopted. That is, indeed, happening. These past few months, external auditors have been trained to ensure that this is done.
As the mining sector opens up for the critical minerals needed for renewable energy—for example, nickel, cobalt, copper and gold—I can assure you that Canadian firms.... B2Gold won an award just in the past couple of years for its exemplary treatment of workers and so forth.
Some of what is appearing in the media is not completely correct. Our job is to meet with companies and see how they're doing.
We are very conscious of some of the criticism that's being launched at the Philippines. Much of it responds to artisanal, informal mining sector operations by local Filipino companies or by companies from other countries, such as China, where those responsibilities are not being taken fully in the spirit of the need to be corporately responsible.
There have been mining accidents in the past. Legislation has been adopted by the Philippines congress to prevent those accidents. Some of them in the past decades have involved foreign companies, including Canadian companies, but corrective measures have been taken. I'm pleased to say that Canadian industry is stepping up and helping not only Canadian firms, but other foreign firms operating in this country.
Madam Chair, in answer to the question, I'm pleased to report that the garbage issue was resolved three years ago, almost exactly, through interaction and negotiation between our two governments and through the embassy here. After the private dispute, all acts of recourse were exhausted. You will recall that the Canadian exporter was bankrupt and there was a technical legal issue going on between private parties. Finally, when the two governments were allowed to come to solve the issue, we solved it. So to answer your question, there have been no further repercussions. The Basil agreement is in force, and I'm not aware of any plastic issues in this country from any foreign suppliers, so that is done.
Also, on human rights, I'm happy to report, as well, that Canada continues, through our [Technical difficulty—Editor] agenda, to press quietly behind closed doors—often with like-minded countries—the need to enforce respect for human rights. It's a lot of what we do. I was just at an event yesterday in support of human rights publicly with NGOs and the Commission on Human Rights, which is a body of the Government of the Philippines.
However, the United Nations has signed a joint program on human rights with the Philippines government involving the justice secretary and the foreign secretary. I was at a briefing by the UN just a few days ago, and there are six working groups, including one on violation by police of human rights. There are court cases starting against individual police. This is the big change. The Philippines will be in Geneva in the coming months to face down UPR and other UN Humans Rights Council initiatives.
So they're very much in play and I'm happy to see that the United Nations—of which we are, of course, members—is reinforcing the charge to make sure that people are accountable. In fact, two UN rapporteurs will be visiting the Philippines, which is something that hasn't happened for many years. The government here is opening up to, for example, taking more of a mental health and human rights approach to narcotics difficulties that the country is facing.
The trade agreements, from my perspective, work in a couple of ways. One is the typical reduction of tariffs, which is what most people conceive of when they look at a trade agreement. However, there's a component to the trade agreements that also generates interest in the negotiations themselves and drives parties to try to take a second look.
Where we've already had interest in Vietnam, for example, the CPTPP trade agreement, in particular, has really done its job. You had relationships already with exports of Canadian agri-food and seafood coming into Vietnam, but in a market that was extremely price-sensitive and extremely competitive, the extra tariffs that were on those products for Canadian producers were a limiting factor. As I mentioned in my opening comments, with the elimination of those tariffs in 2019, you started to see the flow of trade coming in and the demand rising fourfold for meat products.
We recently had a visit from the Canadian meat producers association looking to harness that growth. It was that growth that they were starting to see—and it's probably early days for that—which made them realize, “Whoa, wait a minute. Maybe we should be putting some more attention and more promotion into this market”.
When you have those partners who know a bit about the market, see the growth and are ready to jump at it, that means the trade agreement has done more than its job.
I'm seeing the same thing in education, for example. Folks are coming out to Vietnam and seeing that there are more opportunities here. There are no trade barriers that a free trade agreement deals with on education, but the momentum and seeing that trade flow and business starting to flow generates a bit more positivity and brings more into the market.
Madam Chair, thanks for the question.
Indeed, it's early days, so formulating priorities is part of what I'm doing. I can tell you that given my experience and my short time here already, there are probably four main areas of work I see pursuing as ambassador to Vietnam.
The first is with respect to rules-based international order and peace and security in the region. Vietnam plays a very important role in the region given its geographic positioning and its role in ASEAN and other organizations. Pursuing like-mindedness with Vietnam where we can based on common interests and using those common interests to pursue joint efforts to preserve rules-based international order is something that would be top of mind for us. That includes consultations on Ukraine, for example, where we are not entirely aligned.
The second would be on supporting Vietnam's efforts to build a more inclusive and open society. Vietnam remains a one-party system. There has been great progress in individual rights and freedoms and in building the institutions that are needed to protect them, but there's more to be done. Having a frank exchange and a collaborative working arrangement with the Vietnamese to support their moves through development assistance and through our own advocacy is going to be a key part of that.
The third, of course, is advancing our trade relationship. It's what we're talking about here today, but it's one that's based on the rules. Canada and Vietnam certainly have a strong foundation. Given the CPTPP and Vietnam's strong support for Canada's negotiations for an ASEAN FTA, we have a strong basis for advancing that rules-based trading relationship.
Finally, there's climate change, which pervades all the pillars of our work here, whether it's development assistance, political advocacy or commercial and technical expertise. Given that Vietnam is one of the world's most vulnerable to climate change, we're here to support and do whatever we can.
I'm out meeting as many people as I can to test those areas of work and to advance them further.
Vietnam, as I mentioned, is a single-party state and has been relatively stable in its political situation. We have seen, I think, over the last couple of years—some of it perhaps opportunistically because of the pandemic—a closure in digital spaces and thus an increase in censorship, and a lower level of tolerance for political opposition. In response to political activism, human rights activism, we've been seeing an uptick in arrests for that. These are reasons for concern, concerns that we do let the Vietnamese know that we have. At the same time, there has been increased opening and progress on things like gender rights and gender equality and ethnic minority rights in the country, so there's reason for optimism.
Coming from where I did, working on China, we're always monitoring political developments to see the extent to which, even in a one-party state, there is division of and limits to power, and in the Vietnamese system, you still have a very strong sense of collective leadership where power is diffuse. In fact, some would say it's almost too diffuse; provinces have an enormous amount of influence over decision-making, which can sometimes make things slow for business. But we haven't seen a very overt crackdown or consolidation of power the way that we had seen, for example, in China, but it's certainly something that we watch for.
Right now, Vietnam is in the midst of an anti-corruption campaign, and whether or not this is going to change the political landscape significantly is yet to be seen, but that's something we're also watching.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My only concern with the motion is about squeezing in the study by the end of the session, but I agree with the motion. We'll be supporting it.
I am from a border community where we receive lots of questions with regard to ArriveCAN. There is no doubt that there still are some issues out there.
One of the things I would like to have seen.... We did this before when we had the Western hemisphere travel initiative. The government did a lot of work to promote to Americans how to deal with the change to the passport laws, even from the perspective of their own country. I was talking with a number of different border proponents, and I don't think we've done a good a job on that.
For me, I'll be supporting having two meetings for this study.
It is a fair point about what committee this really belongs at, but it's one of those subject matters that gets booted around from committee to committee and never really gets any attention, so, for those reasons, I'll support it.
Thanks very much.
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you to my colleagues' consideration of this.
I'd like the tourism sector to remain part of this motion. It is an import/export sector. It's a $105 billion in GDP generated for our Canadian economy. It employs one in ten Canadian workers. In my community alone, $2.4 billion is generated in tourism receipts. About 23% of our visitor base is Americans who will visit my community, but over 50% of that revenue generated in my community comes from those American visitors. What we're not doing is properly facilitating the trade and the flow of traffic that's coming from our American visitors to Canada.
For example, the recent Statistics Canada data that came in for March on international visitation indicated there were 465,000 Americans who visited in March 2022. That's up from 95,000 from the year before. But if you go back to 2019, it was 1.5 million Americans who visited in 2019, which was our best tourism year ever in Canada. Destination Canada is already saying that we're not going to get a recovery in tourism until 2025 or 2026 at the earliest. In my community alone, there are 40,000 people who work in the tourism community, and 16,000 hotel rooms devoted to it. What they depend upon is open borders, and right now on the American long weekend, we were hearing of two-and-a-half-hour border delays.
I've got council resolutions from the Town of Fort Erie and from the City of Niagara Falls advocating for the ArriveCAN app to be rescinded and dropped. I was disappointed to see as we're moving into a tourism recovery, the government, not committing one dollar this year to tourism recovery—they did they commit monies for indigenous tourism—and they committed $1 billion last year. And, again, consider that Niagara Falls generates $2.4 billion when the government committed only $1 billion last year.
Much to my surprise, the government's committing $25 million to the ArriveCAN application. And for me, I'm trying to determine and find from the government, and have yet to be provided an answer, where the public health benefit rests with the ArriveCAN application. If it's meant to facilitate traffic flow in border crossings, it's doing a poor job at that. We're hearing about this at airports. We're hearing about it at border crossings. We're hearing about it from our industry representatives, who are caught in those two-and-a-half-hour border delays. We shouldn't be doing that. It should take seconds and not minutes to cross the border. We've had representations from our two international border commissions, who have said that ArriveCAN needs to be replaced or augmented and changed.
That's why I presented this motion, Madam Chair, for our committee's consideration.