Canadian companies doing business with a bloc of Asian nations need to stick around and do the hard work of building trade ties even after the ink dries on any government-struck trade deals, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in laying down the challenge Tuesday.
Speaking to a room of Canadians already invested in the region and local companies interested in investing in Canada, Trudeau tried to frame Canada as an isle of political, social and economic stability in the world — noting the ease to get a visa for top tech talent relative to the longer times in the United States.
It was Trudeau’s first event after landing in Asia. It sets the stage for what the Liberals hope will be a clearer picture of how to pursue freer trade with a 10-nation bloc of major suppliers and customers, which includes Singapore.
Many members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are experiencing robust population growth, and their consumer classes are expanding more quickly than in the rest of the world.
ASEAN’s members — the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma — have nearly 650 million people, a combined economy of US$2.8 trillion, and are already Canada’s sixth-biggest trading partner.
“You’re looking at a whole population of people who are buying more goods, people who are looking at travelling around the world,” said Canadian Emilie Potvin, Uber’s director of public policy for the Asia-Pacific region.
“For them to hear the Canadian story, for them to see the prime minister is exactly the kind of message that we want our government to send.”
The message Trudeau sent back to those businesses was that they needed to do their part because a trade deal doesn’t automatically boost business ties.
“The real work, actually, gets started after you have signed the papers,” Trudeau said at the start of the meeting.
“Building the relationships, building the connections, building the facility and also changing mindsets — getting Canadian companies to see the opportunities we have around the world to partner and invest.”
Source: National Post
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