Thank you very much.
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, I want to thank all of you for having invited me this morning.
I am happy to be joined by Ms. Alexandra Bugailiskis, Assistant Deputy Minister at Global Affairs Canada for Europe, the Middle East and the Maghreb.
I am sure you will all agree that the relationship our country entertains with the European continent will be particularly crucial in next few years, both because of the opportunities Europe offers us and the challenges we will both have to face. We will meet these challenges more effectively if Canadians and Europeans work closely together.
I will begin by speaking of the opportunities.
Europe is nothing less than the world's second-largest market, with over 500 million consumers and a GDP of $21 trillion. We are speaking about the world's largest importer of aerospace products, fish and seafood, oil and gas products, telecommunications, and computer and information services. It's the world's second-largest importer of automotive goods, and Canada has less than 1% of that business today. It is the second-largest importer of medical devices and pharmaceutical products, and our second-largest customer of metals and minerals.
We need to make sure that the comprehensive economic and trade agreement is a success, not just a signed agreement. It must be a reality on the ground that will provide jobs for our workers and investments for our economy.
Today only 26% of EU tariff lines on Canadian goods are duty free. With CETA, 98% of EU tariff lines will be duty free for Canadian goods. For example, after tariffs as high as 10% are cut, exporters of Canadian forestry products will have an opportunity to increase their EU market share.
CETA will open new agriculture and agri-food market opportunities for Canadian exporters, with almost 94% of EU agriculture tariffs becoming duty free. The EU annual infrastructure outlay is estimated at $400 billion, larger than that of the United States. The EU has earmarked hundreds of billions of euros for transportation, energy, and broadband projects by 2020. CETA is, for us, a golden opportunity to succeed in this huge market.
CETA is more than a welcome lever for our economic growth. It is also the opportunity to show our population and the world that trade and societal progress may go hand in hand. There is no need to choose between trade and progress. It is the way to pull together our ability to share the best practices for social justice, environmental sustainability, labour rights, food safety, and so on.
I will now move from the opportunities to the challenges.
Those the European Union faces were summarized quite recently by Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and I quote: “The second threat, an internal one, is connected with the rise in anti-EU, nationalist, increasingly xenophobic sentiment in the EU itself. [...] A decline of faith in political integration, submission to populist arguments, as well as doubt in the fundamental values of liberal democracy are all increasingly visible.”
Ladies and gentlemen members of Parliament, Canada and Europe are facing issues that know no borders, and which they will resolve better together.
Our demographic weight is declining in the world, and our population is aging. Consequently, our productivity and efficiency have to increase.
Our populations are becoming more diverse and more heterogeneous. In light of that, let us make diversity our strength, more than ever before.
Gender equality has not yet been achieved. Consequently, let us find inspiration in the best breakthroughs in Canada and in Europe.
The globalization of markets and automation are leaving behind whole categories of workers. Consequently, let us find a path together to inclusive growth.
Our planet can no longer tolerate the ravages of self-destructive development. Consequently, let us together find a path to sustainable development.
Our vast common neighbour, Russia, worries us. Consequently, let us strengthen our common defence with the United States, while resolutely conducting the necessary dialogue. Let us also strengthen co-operation in order to meet the common terrorist threat.
Not only will our free trade agreement help us, Europeans and Canadians, to meet these challenges together, but of the fact that Europeans and Canadians are now officially strategic partners will also help us to do so.
Indeed, in addition to CETA, we have also just concluded a strategic partnership agreement. This agreement encompasses key parts of our bilateral and multilateral co-operation, such as peace and security, clean energy and climate change, the promotion of human rights, sustainable development, and science and innovation.
As we can see, the relationship between Europe and Canada is truly at a crucial time. To maximize our chances of success, the Prime Minister is convinced that a new resource is needed: a senior diplomat to Europe playing an overarching role in advancing Canada's interests throughout Europe, ensuring coherence across the activities of Canadian diplomatic missions, and providing guidance to the Prime Minister.
The Canadian presence in Europe is presently in 32 countries through 36 bilateral missions, in addition to eight multilateral missions. The Prime Minister wants the senior diplomat to help him, the government, the foreign affairs minister, and all our ambassadors and missions pull together Canada's pan-European efforts. The Prime Minister wants this diplomat to be posted in one of the key European countries, and from there, ensure a more cohesive diplomacy aimed at advancing our shared interests with the whole of Europe.
Among these key European countries, Germany is an excellent choice in which to anchor this new diplomatic resource, if only because it is Europe's leading economic power: its GDP of more than $4 billion represents 21% of the GDP of the European Union.
As a G7, G20, and NATO partner, Germany co-operates with Canada across a range of issue areas, such as transnational relations, Russia and Ukraine, counterterrorism, the global fight against Daesh, and migration. As the ambassador to Germany, I will be working extremely hard, supported by our strong and professional mission, to strengthen this key economic and political relationship, which is key not only for our goals in Europe but in fact across the globe.
The Prime Minister has asked me to be this principal diplomat, as ambassador to Germany and as his special envoy to the European Union and Europe. I have accepted that responsibility. I have prepared actively for it over the past weeks, and I am anxious to leave for Europe and undertake this important task, for the prime minister, the government, and my country. I know that expectations are high, not only in Canada, but also in Europe.
In the letter they just wrote to the Prime Minister to welcome my appointment, the presidents for the European Council and for the European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, said that this appointment “affords us the chance to take those relations to a new level” and to “champion our shared values of freedom, human rights and democracy as well as our shared dedication to the market economy, so as to drive forward our common interests in a period of unprecedented challenges.”
I will do everything I can to rise to these expectations. I am eager to take up my responsibilities and I know that in this journey, I will always benefit from the advice and hard work of this committee.
Merci beaucoup. Thank you very much. Danke schön.