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Speeches

Canada India Agriculture and Food Processing Forum

September 13, 2012
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Notes for an address by

The Honourable Lynne Yelich
Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification

Speaking Notes (English)

Corresponding Documents: News Release

Check Against Delivery

Thank you Rahul Shastri [National Convenor, Canada India Foundation]. Good morning everyone. It’s an honour to be here on behalf of the Government of Canada. I also bring greetings from my colleagues, the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and International Trade Minister, the Honourable Ed Fast.

I would like to thank the Canada India Foundation for the opportunity to speak with you today. And to all of you, welcome to Saskatoon!

This is an exciting time for the economies of both Canada and India. The agriculture and food industry is a strong driver of jobs and growth in both of our great nations. Our Government applauds the great work this forum does to help your industries meet challenges and promote a dynamic and competitive food processing industry. We also recognize India’s growing importance as a leader in global commerce, as well as its development into one of the world’s largest emerging markets.

The Canadian food and beverage processing industry is the largest manufacturing industry in Canada, and the largest manufacturing employer, providing jobs for two hundred and ninety thousand (290,000) Canadians. In India, the processing industry serves a seventy-billion-dollar ($70B) market, accounting for about ten per cent (10%) of the world’s fruit production.

Our Government understands the importance of Canada’s agriculture sector and we are committed to strengthening its long term competitiveness. Both my colleague Gerry Ritz, Canada’s Agriculture Minister, and I grew up on farms not far from here.

Minister Ritz is a passionate advocate for agriculture and works closely with farmers and food processors to grow new markets for their world-class agriculture and food products.

As part of our Government’s strategy for economic growth and prosperity, we have been pursuing a very ambitious pro-trade plan. A few weeks ago, I led a public consultation in Saskatoon on the next phase of Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy. These extensive consultations, taking place across Canada, are seeking advice about the next phase of our pro-trade plan for jobs and economic growth.

In 2007, Our Government launched the Global Commerce Strategy to position Canada for long-term prosperity. It identified thirteen (13) priority markets around the world where opportunities for Canadian businesses and interests had the greatest potential for growth and success. This led to five years of Canadian leadership on the world stage fighting protectionism and supporting open trade, job creation, economic growth and prosperity for Canadians.

But the world has changed since we launched the first phase of our Strategy five years ago. We want to design our Strategy accordingly, and align our trade and investment objectives with exciting, high-growth markets and sectors around the world. To that end, we’ve focused our discussions and efforts on five key areas, with the goal of announcing our refreshed Strategy in twenty-thirteen (2013).

What are those five key areas?

First, we’re committed to ensuring Canadian businesses have access to priority markets around the world.

The second focus of our refreshed Strategy is to re-energize the support services that help Canadian businesses take advantage of opportunities abroad. Of course, this includes our Trade Commissioner Service.

The third focus is to ensure businesses get the capital they need to become more active around the world - joining forces with partners like Export Development Canada and the Canada Commercial Corporation..

The fourth focus of our updated Global Commerce Strategy is to ensure our businesses — especially our small and medium-sized enterprises – have access to the technology they need.

And, finally, the fifth focus is all about "people" — ensuring that our businesses have access to the very best talent and brainpower the world has to offer.

In Canada, we have a relatively small population, so half of farmers’ production is ultimately exported beyond our shores. Creating new export markets for Canadian-made products will stimulate economic growth which will preserve our Canadian economic advantage now and in the future. In six (6) years, we have concluded trade agreements with nine (9) countries.

And we have many more in progress, including, of course, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between Canada and India. As you know, a fifth round of talks was held in July.

It’s estimated that, once concluded, the agreement could boost the Indian and Canadian economies by at least six billion dollars ($6B) each, and result in a significant increase in bilateral trade. That will translate into new jobs and new economic growth in both our nations.

Both of our Prime Ministers not only recognize this potential but have committed to increasing bilateral trade to fifteen billion dollars ($15B) by twenty-fifteen (2015). That’s an ambitious, but achievable, goal.

Last year, overall trade between Canada and India exceeded five billion dollars ($5.2B), and agriculture and food made up close to twenty per cent (20%) of that. And our agricultural trade is growing, up almost a hundred and fifty million dollars ($146M) in the past two years alone.

Here in Saskatchewan our trade with India surpassed a half a billion dollars ($559M) last year and is already up over a quarter (27%) for the first half of twenty-twelve (2012). Key agri-food commodities traded between our countries include rice, coriander, cashews, and, of course, our pulse crops, which supply about a third of the Indian market, with the vast majority coming from right here in Saskatchewan.

But it’s interesting to note that our trade with India is diversifying, with the non-pulse component increasing considerably in the first half of this year.

India is also a major market for Canada’s potash, with about a third of world’s production coming from right here in Saskatchewan, which is home to companies such as Canpotex and Potash Corp. Cameco is also headquartered here in the province, as a key supplier of uranium to supply India’s energy needs, supported by the Nuclear Co-operation Agreement that was reached between Canada and India two years ago.

On the innovation side, a third of Canada’s agricultural bio-tech community is located here in Saskatchewan. This is supporting strong relationships with India, including the formation of the National Agri-Biotechnology Institute in Mohali, in partnership with University of Saskatchewan.

India’s strong tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation, coupled with its excellence and growing capacity in science and technology, makes it an excellent partner in the knowledge-based economy for Canada. Canada, in turn, is particularly well placed to partner with India in this area, primarily due to the significant investments we have made in science and technology.

My colleagues, Minister Ritz, and Minister Fast, are keeping a strong focus on the Canada-India trading relationship. Minister Ritz has led two trade missions to India, securing Canada’s first agricultural MOU with India to promote dialogue and information exchanges, co-operation and technology transfer in: emerging technologies; agricultural marketing; and animal development.

This agreement is already bearing much fruit, with: the establishment of a dairy herd registration system; the development of weather-based crop insurance programs; and Innovation in pulse production and usage.

In food processing, as well, we can work together to facilitate the processing of cereals, fruits and vegetables. We can work towards the creation of a food development centre in India, focussing on key pillars like food security, sustainability and safety, which are the themes of this conference.

I understand the Governments of Manitoba and Alberta have been in touch with Punjab (puhn-jahb) and Haryana (harr-yee-ana) states to set up such a centre.

Here in Saskatoon, my department, WD, recently invested in two projects at the Saskatchewan Food Centre and P.O.S. Pilot Plant to extract juice and mash from fruit. Then, the mash is condensed into a concentrated powder, which can be easily transported and sold as a nutritional additive for vitamins or medications.

But my Department’s support can be seen across the West. For example, similar investments are benefiting Manitoba’s agriculture and food processing sector. WD contributed to expand the Food Development Centre in Portage la Prairie. New wet and dry labs expanded their commercial food processing capacity.

We also invested in the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre to acquire state-of-the-art research and processing equipment for its new Centre of Excellence. This cutting-edge equipment will enable the Centre to undertake more collaborative work with major worldwide malting and brewing companies and to meet increased international standards. This, in turn, will result in greater use of Canadian barley, particularly in growing export markets in Asia, Africa and South America.

WD also invested in the construction of the British Columbia Cranberry Marketing Commission’s new Cranberry Research Centre in Delta. Funding will aid in the construction of the centre, the first of its kind in Canada, and only the fourth in North America. This new research centre will serve as a test facility where current and new cranberry varieties can be evaluated using various growing mediums and alternate production techniques.

In addition, over 900 food processor members from associations in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and BC will benefit from another WD project, led by the Saskatchewan Food Processors Association, to market western Canadian food products. This is introducing buyers from China, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, and many others to Western Canada, where they will discover the wide range of food products we have to offer them. It is also supporting trade missions to Asia-Pacific countries, where our food processors can learn how to better meet the needs and wants of foreign consumers.

One of the most important roles our Government plays is to ensure Canada has a competitive marketplace. Being competitive in the modern economy means expanding and adapting to a changing global market. Jobs and growth are our top priority.

The emergence of the Asia-Pacific region and its position at the forefront of a changing global economy is one of the most defining features of the 21st century economic landscape. The rapidly growing economies of these countries are not only transforming global trade and investment patterns...

They are also creating new possibilities for strengthened economic relations with nations such as Canada, whose economic prosperity depends heavily on international trade. Western Canada, in particular, is uniquely positioned – both geographically and economically – to capitalize on these new economic opportunities.

And we can help India meet its ambitious goal of tripling the size of its food processing industry by twenty-fifteen (2015). This will require: Enhancing the competitiveness of the food processing industry; Making the sector attractive for domestic and foreign investors; and integrating food processing infrastructure from farm to market.

Canada can also provide expertise in the area of handling and storage and equipment in grain and other products, to help the industry in India reduce losses and capture new opportunities.

This is just the beginning. I have no doubt we will continue to see new partnerships right along the value chain.

Trade has many moving parts -- but to succeed it must go both ways and benefit both sides. Canada’s growing trade with India is fuelled by our strong ties – both business-to-business and people-to-people.

Across Canada, a vibrant Indo-Canadian community helps to enrich our land, and our culture. Add to that the student and other cultural exchanges that came out of our celebrations of the Year of India in Canada in twenty-eleven (2011).

Trade is a relationship based on friendship. It’s about exchange of ideas and technology. It’s about exploring ways each partner can help the other partner grow and prosper. As all the world seeks out new ways to feed a growing population, our Government will continue working with the agriculture and food sector in India to help both of our industries meet challenges and capture new opportunities.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I want to extend my congratulations to everyone who has worked to make this event a reality.

Together, we are working to build a stronger West for a stronger Canada.

Thank you. Merci.