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15 July 2016

The ratification of the Canada and European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a priority for Quebec

Successive Quebec Liberal Party governments have had one thing in common:  they have proposed daring and visionary projects that have shaped Quebec as it is today. They have done so with the benefit of the ideas, collaboration and support of QLP members from each and every region of Quebec. Under the leadership of Premiers such as Robert Bourassa, Jean Lesage, and Jean Charest, Quebec embraced change, rather than simply react to it.

I have just completed an important trade mission in the United Kingdom and Germany. While we participated in the Farnborough Aeronautic Show, in order to support Quebec’s aerospace industry and associated companies, and attended the Conférence des chefs de gouvernement des Régions partenaires in Munich, one of my goals for this trip was to promote the Canada and European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

BREXIT should not push Europe to reject open markets. On the contrary, Europe must insist, now more than ever, on the necessity of open markets. We should be confident, not skeptical.

CETA’s objective is a simple one – ensuring the mobility of goods, capital and individuals. For our companies, this means having the ability to export their products more easily by reducing administrative and financial trade barriers, which are often cumbersome. CETA will facilitate foreign investment in Quebec.

As an entry point for North America, Quebec has regained a business climate that encourages investment. We have presented two balanced budgets. Our fiscal management has been applauded by the credit rating agencies (Fitch, DBRS, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s). This is important to potential investors. Our economic priorities are clear:  an innovative manufacturing sector, exports, and entrepreneurship. These priorities are evident in many economic strategies that we have presented, and our plans respond directly to the needs of local companies.

Quebec is ready to welcome investment in order to grow our economy, and to invest in new markets in order to create jobs here at home.

CETA is a tremendous opportunity, and we must take advantage of it. Quebec, the rest of Canada and Europe cannot miss this chance. We will spare no effort to ensure that this agreement is ratified as soon as possible, in the best interests of our workers and our entrepreneurs.

With a population of more than 8 million people, Quebec must turn to exports to develop new markets.  There are more than 500 million consumers in Europe!

Former Premier Jean Charest understood this reality well when he proposed the idea of an agreement of this type. Today, negotiations have concluded. The next steps must be taken quickly.

Over the next few months, we have engaged the Government of Quebec in a diplomatic process designed to promote the benefits of CETA and to reassure those who fear its potential effects; we have placed particular emphasis, in our arguments, on our seven international delegations in six European countries.

However, in a world that is constantly changing, in particular because of greater emphasis on the digital economy and technological evolution in all sectors of the economy, Quebec must not be behind the times. On the contrary, we must be perceived as a leader. In order to accomplish this, our government has chosen to make an innovative manufacturing sector, exports and entrepreneurship its priorities.  These pillars of our economy must be at the heart of our economic strategies and of our actions. It is in this way that local companies, which are the great drivers of our economy, will stand out.

Today, I have completed a trade mission to our 3rd biggest commercial partner, Germany. Speaking before an audience of German entrepreneurs, I promoted Quebec, and I emphasized the importance of increasing our exchanges, of being open to the world, and of confidence in the future. In that context, the cornerstone of my message was that it is critically important to ratify CETA quickly.

CETA is an opportunity of which we must take advantage, for the benefit of all Quebecers. This agreement is beneficial for us, because it will allow us to increase the exchange and the fluidity of goods, persons and capital.

We will all be winners when CETA is ratified. Let openness to the world be Quebec’s new trademark!

Philippe Couillard
Premier of Québec