September 14, 2017
Canada and Mexico: Partners in Prosperity
Keynote Address to the Canada-Mexico Chamber of Commerce in Mexico City
Check against delivery
Thank you for being here today.
It's a real pleasure to be here.
I love the energy of this city.
When I did my MBA in France back in 1990, one of the admissions criteria was to list three languages.
I listed English, French and Spanish.
By my introduction, I think you can see that I'm lucky I studied in France, and not in Spain.
Nonetheless, it gives me great pleasure to be here.
Before I begin, I wanted to say, on behalf of Canadians, that our thoughts are with all of you and with all of those who have been affected by the recent earthquake. Canada stands with you.
Today, I am here to speak to you and deepen what is already a very strong, productive and strengthening relationship.
It's true that Canada and Mexico have always shared a special bond.
That is in part due to the fact that we share a land border with the U.S.—our economic and cultural superpower next door.
And though we don't share a common border ourselves, we are bound by people-to-people ties and integrated supply chains that are the result of what has been one of the most successful economic and trading relationships the world has ever seen.
A Canadian company like Magna employs 62,000 Americans, 22,000 Mexicans and 20,000 Canadians—building auto parts and components that rely on supply chains that criss-cross the borders.
This kind of integration helps us all.
And it underpins a strong and growing bilateral economic relationship between our two countries as well.
Let's consider a few numbers:
C$40.8 billion in bilateral merchandise trade.
$17 billion in Canadian direct investment in Mexico.
Nearly 5,000 Mexican students came to Canada to study last year alone.
About 26,000 temporary workers from Mexico came to Canada last year, the majority being agricultural workers contributing to Canada's agri-food industry.
2.3 million Canadians visited Mexico in 2016, while 250,000 Mexicans made the trip north.
Now that our Government lifted the visa requirement in December of last year, we look forward to welcoming even more of you to the Great White North.
And thanks to recent air transport agreements, as well as arrangements for trusted traders and travellers, it is easier than ever to visit each other and conduct business between our two countries.
As we simplify travel across North America, we increase our overall growth and competitiveness.
Numbers and statistics aside, there are deep personal relationships as well.
Over the last two years, I've had a chance to get to know Minister Meade.
From hockey games to the G20 meetings, and in boardrooms from Mexico City to Montréal—we are friends. We are allies. We are partners in prosperity.
The integration of the North American market means that I, as a Canadian, have done business in and created jobs in the United States.
It means that Ministers Meade and Videgaray both have PhDs from America's most prestigious universities.
It means we can pick up the phone, call each other and have a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing our two countries—and our planet.
I like to think we both punch above our weight internationally too—think of Ángel Gurría at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or Mark Carney at the Financial Stability Board.
These deep, interconnected relationships help as we work closely together in areas such as trade and investment, security, competitiveness and the environment to create a more integrated, sustainable and globally competitive North American economy.
And we have a lot of work ahead of us.
As our economies grow, we must make sure the benefits of that growth are shared with our middle class and with the most vulnerable.
Numbers may be instructive, but the true measure of success is how well the benefits of the growth we create are widely shared by our citizens.
This is especially true for women and Indigenous Peoples.
By offering social protection to low-income families, we are able to reduce vulnerability, improve well-being and create social mobility—particularly for women and girls.
Through Canada's International Development Research Centre, Canada and Mexico are working together to implement an innovative mobile banking solution called Prospera Digital.
Mexico's Prospera program already provides cash on a regular basis to 7 million low-income women, so long as they provide their children with schooling, health services and adequate nutrition.
Prospera Digital will distribute these funds more efficiently using cell phones, opening the door to other services like savings, remittances and microcredit.
Our two countries are also working together to help give our Indigenous communities the opportunities to excel as innovators and entrepreneurs on their own terms.
In both Canada and Mexico, Indigenous Peoples—especially women—face challenges in attaining and applying higher education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Both Canada and Mexico are working together to enhance STEM capacities among Indigenous women in Mexico to help them actively contribute to the development of their communities.
As my friend and colleague, Minister Chrystia Freeland, has said:
"Trade is about people. It's about creating the best possible conditions for growth, for jobs, for prosperity for individuals and working families."
This is the spirit in which we are undertaking North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations—to improve and strengthen the positive effects our trading relationship has had for the people we serve.
By almost any measure, NAFTA has been an extraordinary success story.
The growth we have seen as a result of NAFTA has created opportunities, good, well-paying jobs, and a better quality of life for people in Canada, in Mexico and in the United States.
We need to continue on this path.
And we believe better is always possible.
Through the modernization of NAFTA, we want to bring in stronger labour safeguards, enhance environmental provisions, address climate change, strengthen gender rights, improve our relationship with Indigenous Peoples, cut red tape to make life easier for small and medium-sized enterprises, and facilitate the movement of working professionals.
Together, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico account for a quarter of the world's gross domestic product.
I see that as a great responsibility—and I believe the world is looking to us to show leadership on these key issues, and to demonstrate the impact, relevance and importance of modern, progressive trade agreements.
I know that feeling of responsibility is shared by my counterpart, Minister Meade.
And together, we will continue to work towards these goals—on and off the ice—be it in Washington, Guadalajara or Vancouver.