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Caroline Chretien, High Commissioner of Canada - Welcome Reception Speech PDF Print E-mail
Newsflash
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 16:01
Welcome Reception Speech by Caroline Chrétien, new High Commissioner of Canada to New Zealand
CANZBA AGM - 27th October, 2009, Auckland
 
  • Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
  • Thank you very much to CANZBA and Air New Zealand for hosting this event.
  • I’ll keep my remarks fairly brief, but I thought I would provide you tonight with an overview of the Canada-NZ relationship, an update on the Canadian economy, as well as the Canadian government’s key areas of focus in the area of trade and investment with New Zealand.
 
The Canada –New Zealand bilateral relationship
 
  • Like New Zealand, Canada’s approach to international affairs is value-driven and strives to make the world a better, safer, healthier, and more prosperous place. To that effect Canada’s foreign policy priorities are to promote peace and security, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and free markets.
  • Both our countries derive their strength and capacity for innovation in large part from our diversity as multicultural nations. Managing diversity is not always easy, but the rewards are great.
  • Despite our geographical distance but in view of our similar history and values, Canada and New Zealand enjoy a close and unique relationship.
  • Over the past year, we have seen official Canadian visits to New Zealand across a broad range of common interests including security and counter-terrorism, emissions trading, health, fisheries, indigenous relations, food safety, dairy management, and mutual assistance on forest fire services. Our Defence Forces cooperate on exercises and information exchange and we both have a significant presence in Afghanistan where we are working to bring about peace, stability, and development.
 
  • At the regional level, Canada benefits from New Zealand’s perspectives and advice on the South Pacific, and we return the favour in the Caribbean and parts of Africa where we have a more significant diplomatic presence.
  • I should note that 2010 is going to be an important year for Canada. We will be hosting the G8 Summit as well as the G20 and of course this coming February, the Winter Olympic Games are taking place in Vancouver. Anticipation is growing in Canada as we prepare to host a spectacular and memorable games to which we hope visitors from NZ and the world will be numerous.
  • And on the bilateral level, 2010 also marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of the High Commission of Canada in Wellington and to underline this milestone, in partnership with Victoria University and MFAT, we will be holding a conference on Canada-New Zealand relations, also in February.
 
Trade Policy
 
  • Many of these areas of collaboration I’ve just  mentioned were touched upon during Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s recent trip to Canada. During his visit to Ottawa earlier this month, Minister McCully met with the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister for National Defence, the Minister of International Cooperation, and the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs.
  • In addition, Minister McCully also met with Minister Stockwell Day, Canadian Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway.
  • The two Ministers took the opportunity to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, or “TPP”
  • They agreed that the TPP is a promising platform for regional integration in Asia-Pacific. Canada is watching developments on the TPP closely and reflecting on how we could add value to these negotiations when the time is right.
 
Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative
 
  • Also of interest to those of you who are engaged in trade with Canada are the investments being made by the Government of Canada through its Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, to establish the best transportation infrastructure network facilitating global supply chains between North America and Asia.
 
    • The network includes the British Columbia Lower Mainland and Prince Rupert ports, principal road and rail connections stretching across western Canada and south to the United States, key border crossings, and major Canadian airports.
    • Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new series of investments in road-rail crossings, as part of the Government’s one billion dollars in funding commitments to enhance the trans-Pacific transportation network.
    • This will ensure those who trade with Canada that shipping goods through the country is both easy and efficient and that Canada continues to offer a direct, well-connected link to the North American market place.
 
Canadian Economic Outlook
 
  • Now for a brief look at how the Canadian economy is faring during these challenging times.
  • Canada was in fact the last major industrialized country dragged into the global recession. 
  • The global downturn, however, and declining demand for our exports have affected economic activity. As you are no doubt aware, Canada has a large trading relationship with the United States, our largest trading partner. (We are the U.S.’s second largest trading partner, as we were just last year surpassed by China).
  • As a result of this relationship, the U.S. auto and housing market crises have had a particularly severe impact on the Canadian manufacturing and forestry sectors
  • As is the case in New Zealand, the surging Canadian dollar has been tough on exporters
    • As recently as last week [Oct. 19], the Canadian dollar went as high as 97 US cents
    • The Canadian authorities watched the situation in Australia and saw the effect a raise in interest rates had on the Ozzie dollar
    • The Governor of the Bank of Canada is therefore working to bring the dollar back down
 
  • The unemployment rate at the moment is 8.7%. There have been 387,000 job losses since last October. While severe, it is still small in comparison to what we have seen in the U.S., with 5 million job losses there
  • Fortunately, Canada entered the recession in a strong position due to recent fiscal surpluses and
  • Canada, like New Zealand, has sound and well-regulated financial institutions
  • And while the manufacturing sector is still suffering, our resource sector is doing well and natural gas prices are expected to pick up this Northern Hemisphere winter
  • The 2009 federal Budget introduced fiscal stimulus measures. With additional actions by the provinces, the stimulus will provide a boost of CDN $61 billion to the economy in the areas of:
    • Tax reductions
    • Enhanced unemployment insurance
    • Training programs
    • Infrastructure spending
 
Bilateral Trade & Investment
 
  • As part of its Global Commerce Strategy, the Government of Canada has identified 13 priority markets, of which New Zealand is one
  • These markets were identified as ones in which Canadian commercial opportunities and interests had the greatest potential for growth; so we’ve all got work to do!
 
  • There are three main areas in which our efforts are focussed, where Canadian industry is strong and opportunities for partnership with New Zealand companies exist. These key areas are:
    • Information and communication technologies
    • Health industries
    • Environmental industries
  • As the presence of our Consulate and Trade Office in Auckland can attest, Canada is keen to do business with New Zealand
    • the Office can help identify potential Canadian partners, suppliers, and answer questions on investment projects
 
 Conclusion
 
  • We are very pleased to have CANZBA as a partner
  • I understand that moving forward, CANZBA has implemented a new structure with free membership
  • So for those of you who have not yet joined, I can’t think of a better incentive
  • And with a direct Auckland-Vancouver air link, there really is no excuse for not engaging in business with Canada
  • I look forward to working with the Association during my assignment here in New Zealand
  • Thank you, once more, for this warm welcome and to all of you for coming tonight
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 December 2009 16:16
 
Simon Tucker
 
Simon Tucker
 Follow Simon on Twitter @NZinOttawa
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