Polish-Canadian Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon
Warsaw, Poland, Friday, October 24, 2014
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you about the great opportunities available to Canada and Poland.
All of you here already know what our two countries are doing together. Indeed, some of you represent Canadian companies that are already doing business in Poland. Others are partners and investors in Canadian interests overseas.
As such, you are all well aware of how well we are collaborating, particularly in trade and investment. Still, allow me to list some impressive ways in which our relationship is growing:
- In 2013, trade between Canada and Poland reached $1.7 billion. For the first nine months of 2014, our bilateral trade is already up by 127%.
- Canadian products can be found throughout Poland, including the trams used in Krakow, which are manufactured by Montréal-based Bombardier.
- Canadian cultural icons Cirque du Soleil have just performed here in Poland.
- Our countries are partnering in aerospace, transportation, mining, oil and gas, sustainable technologies, and information and communication technologies, to name but a few sectors.
- Between 2012 and 2014, KGHM and Orlen Upstream made large investments in Canada in the mining, and oil and gas sectors.
- That was the same year Poland identified Canada as one of seven markets in which it was worth expanding.
- And let us not forget that the french fries that McCain’s produces here in Poland are enjoyed in Canada, while Poles enjoy Canadian cranberries, maple syrup and lobster.
Of course, there are many more examples of partnerships that have allowed organizations like the Polish Canadian Chamber of Commerce to thrive.
Canadians and Poles have discovered the benefits of investing in each other’s countries.
For its part, Canada is economically diverse and resource rich, and its banking and tax systems are respected around the world. Ours is an innovative economy, and our workforce is competitive and highly educated. We have experienced growth in business investment that has been the strongest in the G-7, and Canada is consistently identified as the best G-20 nation in which to do business.
Poland’s economy experienced remarkable growth during the recession of 2008 and it has continued to expand. That you managed to avoid the pitfalls and continued to develop your economy—with the GDP now sitting 25 per cent above 2008 levels!—speaks to Poland’s amazing ability to adapt.
You have taken advantage of your geographical position within Europe to provide vital services to surrounding nations, and you are diversifying your output. You have impressed many with your business acumen and your aptitude for anticipating the needs of both your partners and your citizens.
It is no wonder that our ties have blossomed.
There are many advantages to partnering with like-minded and successful nations, not least because it gives us both the chance to advance our societies through the exchange of goods, research, innovation and knowledge.
Since we already have a strong trade relationship, we must now ask ourselves, where do we go from here?
I believe we must act today to secure our future trade relationship to benefit the next generation of Canadians and Poles.
One way in which we are working toward strengthening our respective financial futures is through the recently announced conclusion of negotiations toward Canada-EU Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as CETA.
This wide-ranging agreement is a major step in the history of the Canada-EU relationship and in our efforts to advance global prosperity through free trade and open markets. For Canada, it is our most ambitious trade initiative ever, broader in scope than even the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Our successful negotiations are a reflection of our shared commitment to strengthening trade and economic ties and to advancing economic sustainability and growth for EU nations and for Canada.
As this agreement has yet to be ratified, I will let the experts speak to its particulars.
However, I would like to talk about the spirit of this agreement and the opportunity it represents for partnership.
Canada benefits when Poland does well because the robustness of the Polish economy has a positive impact in Canada. It is also beneficial to Poland to have a healthy and strong partner with which to trade.
It is this reciprocity that will increase our co-operation in all areas, including trade and investment.
Looking quickly at expectations, CETA is predicted to boost bilateral trade between Canada and the EU by 20 per cent, provide a 12 billion Euros increase in Europe’s GDP, increase market access, remove barriers to trade and investment, and create jobs.
These are lofty goals, but they cannot succeed unless we commit to working together for the good of all our peoples.
This agreement can lead to more trade and investment opportunities between our two countries, but there are other opportunities that underlie the economic benefits, one of which is mobility.
Nearly 1 in 35 Canadians claim Polish ancestry, and contribute to every facet of life in Canada. As such, we have great interest in Poland and a large community that is pre-disposed to working together. These people-to-people ties are the backbone of our relationship, and one of the reasons why this agreement can and must succeed.
Because of this large community, Poland is a part of Canada, and we must make the most of every chance we have to work together.
This extends to our young people, who will be the leaders and ambassadors of tomorrow. Every year, students from Poland come to Canada to study. And hundreds of Canadians are learning in some of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Poland.
Through these students, and through the many exchanges that take place between our two peoples, we are building bridges that will allow us to continue finding new and exciting ways to work together.
In business, we must facilitate mobility between those who are looking to increase their market, or to find new customers or even like-minded partners.
But along with business mobility, we must also be mindful of and encourage another kind of mobility: the mobility of knowledge.
With a broadening trade relationship, we will have greater access to the knowledge and expertise of each other’s peoples. We have much to learn from one another.
Throughout my mandate, I have stressed the importance of what I like to call the diplomacy of knowledge, which is simply sharing across borders and disciplines. In this way, we not only give our peoples the chance to succeed, but we also allow them the opportunity to thrive on the world stage.
When two nations achieve great things together, all nations benefit. What better way is there to encourage a fairer, more successful world?
All of you here today will have a major role to play in the coming years. Your role as business leaders and as friends of Poland and Canada is paramount to our mutual success.
I know that you will advocate for a stronger relationship, one that allows us to move between our countries with ease. And I urge you to seek new ways for us to collaborate. I look forward to speaking with you about your ideas and experiences, and the challenges related to the Canada-Poland bond we share.