Trudeau touts trade, diverse economy in U.S. visit
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, March 31, 2016 4:08AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 31, 2016 11:02AM EDT
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told an American business audience that Canada is more than just a "natural resources country," as the latest GDP numbers showed better-than-expected growth in January.
Trudeau stressed the importance of diverse and clean economic growth in remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, while touting his government's first federal budget as an "investment" in the future.
"With historically low interest rates, the time to invest is now," Trudeau said in a speech. He added that successful, confident countries are "always willing to bet on the future," and his government's budget was put together with that approach in mind.
As Trudeau fielded questions about low oil prices and a weak loonie, Statistics Canada released numbers showing the country's gross domestic product grew by 0.6 per cent in January, doubling economists' predictions. Canada's manufacturing sector showed the strongest growth in January at 1.9 per cent, while mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction rose by 0.9 per cent. However, wholesale trade declined by 0.2 per cent, even as Trudeau spoke about the importance of cross-border trade with the United States.
"The numbers are clear: trade is good for jobs, trade is good for the global economy," Trudeau told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
However, the PM did not go into specifics about two key international trade deals, during a question-and-answer session following his remarks. When asked about the possibility of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trudeau said Canada is always willing to talk about it, but he also cautioned against making tweaks to the agreement.
"As soon as you crack open a deal for one little thing, the whole thing can unravel," he said.
Trudeau was also pressed to comment on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the previous Conservative government initially negotiated with several other countries, during the federal election. Trudeau reiterated his oft-repeated message to examine the deal closely before making a decision on whether to ratify it next month. "We're looking at understanding and allaying certain fears, and building on opportunities," the PM said.
Chamber of Commerce Vice-President Myron Brilliant urged Canada to sign on to TPP, in his introductory remarks for Trudeau.
Co-operation with the U.S.
During his speech, the PM spoke of his state visit to Washington earlier this month, when he and U.S. President Barack Obama reached agreements on climate change measures, cross-border trade and clean economic growth.
"In the rapidly-expanding global marketplace, the reality is this: new growth is increasingly clean growth," he said. "There are billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of good jobs on the table for the countries that get this right."
"The progress we made was possible not because of the people in the room – after all, leaders come and go – but because of the deep, lasting relationship our two countries enjoy," he added.
Trudeau's state visit with Obama has faced some criticism, as the U.S. president is nearing the end of his final term. Though some have questioned how much Trudeau and Obama can accomplish together in that time, the PM has repeatedly stressed that the Canada-U.S. relationship goes beyond the individuals in charge.
"I'm confident that in the years ahead, Canada, the United States, and our neighbours in Mexico will accomplish amazing things together," he said.
Trudeau is scheduled to attend a working lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, before attending a nuclear summit at the White House, hosted by Obama. The two-day meeting will continue on Friday with a discussion about the worst-case scenario of terrorists obtaining a nuclear weapon.