Letter to the Honourable Mary Ng, P.C.,M.P., Minister of International Trade, Export promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, as part of the Business Councils submission to Global Affairs Canada’s consultations on the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP).
Re: Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity
Please accept this letter as the Business Council of Canada’s submission to your departmental consultations on the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP).
I had the privilege of being at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last June, at the invitation of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, when President Biden announced the creation of APEP as a catalyst for economic growth throughout our shared hemisphere. Unlike in the case of the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), unveiled just a few weeks earlier, business leaders were pleased to see that Canada was listed as a founding member of APEP.
Canadian businesses have extensive investments and operations throughout the Americas, and not only in those countries where Canada has preferential market access or investment treaties. Strengthening vital hemispheric supply and value chains, as well as the rules governing free, fair, and open trade in the region, will greatly benefit our national economic security and economic growth. It is in Canada’s interests, then, that we play a leading role in APEP.
Canada can show leadership by ensuring that in the ongoing APEP negotiations member-countries prioritize the collective competitiveness and productivity of our respective economies. This includes alignment on the development of the hemisphere’s concentration of critical minerals and energy resources while at the same time expediting the approval and construction of integrated trade-enabling infrastructure to ensure access to those resources.
Any discussion of increasing hemispheric competitiveness and productivity must include labour mobility. Canada is currently experiencing an acute shortage of skilled labour, one which could be addressed in part by enhanced economic immigration. Many of our hemispheric partners have a demographic advantage in terms of their working-age populations. Indeed, many of them work for companies with operations in Canada, some even headquartered here.
In addition, we believe Canada could further show leadership within APEP by encouraging those countries in our hemisphere who have yet to join to reconsider their participation. At present there are key markets, such as Brazil and Argentina, who have yet to sign on. If Canada were to leverage its bilateral relationships with those two governments, and successfully persuade them to join APEP, it would represent a significant contribution to the group.
While APEP isn’t a trade agreement in the traditional sense, it complements and supplements the existing bilateral and multilateral agreements Canada has throughout the hemisphere. This includes the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as our bilateral trade agreements with partners such as Chile, Peru, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Honduras.
Of course, the importance business leaders assign to APEP – and, for that matter, to IPEF – is due to the fact that Canada’s economy is so inextricably intertwined and interdependent with that of the United States. Any initiative the U.S. undertakes to design or develop new standards and rules for trade and investment has a direct impact on Canadian businesses. If Canada does not have a seat at the table when decisions are made, we’re at a disadvantage.
It is critical that Canada remain engaged with key U.S. stakeholders who are driving the American approach to economic integration in our hemisphere. This engagement must include outreach to those not in the Administration. As an example, Canadian business leaders are closely following developments around the Americas Trade and Investment Act as proposed by Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL).
To that end, we support the united ‘Team Canada’ approach you have advocated in this and other areas. Working together, government and business can be Canada’s strongest advocates both across our continent and around the world. In this, we also acknowledge the efforts of those in Opposition, such as Member of Parliament for Prince Albert, Randy Hoback, who have also been working on these important bilateral and multilateral Americas issues.
For our part, the BCC and its members remain firmly committed to working with government to advance Canadian interests anywhere and everywhere around the world. If there is anything we can do to assist you in your APEP work, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
Yours very truly,