Canada continues to woo Asia investment and trade, highlighting its lack of ‘chaos’

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Canada extended its charm offensive in Asia, taking to the Milken Institute 2018 Asia Summit on Thursday to highlight how much friendlier its trade and immigration policies are than in its newly belligerent neighbor to the South.

“Disorder, disruption, chaos: however we’re describing the volatile and changing investment landscape, Canada is becoming a bit of an oasis, countering all of these emerging realities by providing global market access, an abundance of world class talent and a supportive, stable, progressive government that will never insult your companies,” Ian McKay, CEO of Invest in Canada, said at the conference in Singapore on Thursday.

Invest in Canada is a federal investment promotion agency.

McKay’s not-really-oblique swipe at U.S. policy trade, immigration and public messaging changes under the Trump administration comes on the heels of a similar message from Canada’s trade representative earlier this month at the ASEAN economic ministers’ summit meeting in Singapore. ASEAN stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“Canada’s goals in ASEAN are for mutual advantage: For trade that creates jobs on both sides of the Pacific, for trade that protects and builds on the benefits of the trade that we enjoy today and for trade that respects and upholds the rules-based international trading system and multi-laterialism,” James Carr, Canada’s minister of international trade diversification, said on September 1 at the ASEAN summit. “We value a rules-based order where might does not equal right.”

The Trump administration had taken a hostile stance toward negotiating with Canada, with the president taking to Twitter to inexplicably claim the country has taken advantage of the U.S. for many years.

 

Canada’s economy is heavily dependent upon the U.S., where the Trump administration has shown hostility toward upholding existing trade agreements, including the NAFTA, or North American Free Trade Agreement, between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Trump has threatened to exclude Canada from NAFTA, but talks were continuing this week.

Invest in Canada’s McKay took to the sold-out Milken Summit to promote his country’s ties to Asia Pacific, in a move that followed Canada’s efforts to highlight its desire to diversify its trading relationships at the ASEAN summit.

Indeed, it could be seen as Canada’s effort to eat its neighbor’s lunch.

“Canada considers itself very much an Asia Pacific nation,” McKay said, pointing to his country signing on to the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which U.S. President Trump pulled out of shortly after he took office

“Canada knows our inclusion in and our relationship with the Asia Pacific will be defining factor for us economically and politically for a century ahead,” McKay said.

While the Trump administration has been threatening to exit trade deals, McKay touted that Canada has “the most favorable trade footprint in the OECD,” as it has trade deals via NAFTA, the European Union, TPP and 14 other bilateral trade pacts.

And he also pointed to Canada’s friendliness to immigration, even as the U.S. has been throwing up high-profile roadblocks, some of which have met with condemnation of human rights groups.

“Canada has a highly educated, multi-cultural, multi-lingual work force and importantly, a new immigration framework that allows companies operating in Canada to secure their talent anywhere in the world within as little as 14 days,” McKay said, noting an influx of tech talent into Vancouver and Toronto.

Correction: This article has been changed to correct the name of the event. It was the Milken Institute 2018 Asia Summit. 

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