Trevor Kennedy’s testimony to the House Committee of Foreign Affairs and International Development regarding the situation at the Russia-Ukraine Border and Implications for Peace and Security.
Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to speak to this committee about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and implications for global peace and security.
The Business Council of Canada is composed of 170 chief executives and entrepreneurs of Canada’s leading enterprises. Many members lead global businesses with extensive trade and investment interests around the world. Following Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, companies quickly severed ties with Russia and have steadfastly supported Ukraine. Canadian businesses have also worked hard to alleviate supply disruptions stemming from the war.
Canadian potash producers like Nutrien increased output to help many of our partners to reduce their reliance on Russian and Belarusian suppliers. Cameco is supplying Ukraine’s energy utility with nuclear fuel to safeguard its energy security and independence for years to come. These are just a few examples among many.
As this war rages on, it is important that Canada remain engaged to support Ukraine and Ukrainian businesses. We cannot wait for the war to end to start rebuilding the country and to strengthen our economic ties. As Ukrainian ambassador to Canada Yulia Kovalev has said – Ukraine’s economy is the “third front” in the war.
That is why the Business Council of Canada is proud to support the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce for the second Rebuild Ukraine Business Conference taking place this week in Toronto. Our President and CEO, Goldy Hyder, as well as other members of the business community will participate in this important and timely conference to highlight the needs and opportunities to rebuild and modernize Ukrainian infrastructure.
Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) Modernization
We also support the recent modernization of the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement. This agreement brings in important new chapters and provisions to our bilateral trade agreement, including covering trade in service. It will create an environment of predictability and stability for our bilateral trade and investment flows.
Our Ukrainian friends and partners have been clear how important this deal is to demonstrate to Canadians that Ukraine is open for businesses, and that businesses can have confidence in the market in the long term. We agree and urge parliamentarians to swiftly ratify this deal.
Export Development Canada
We have also urged Export Development Canada to put in place war risk insurance and 2-year export credits to help support Canadian companies who wish to trade with and invest in Ukraine.
As our CEO wrote to EDC two weeks ago, credit agencies from Germany, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Poland, and the Netherlands are now all providing political and/or war risk insurance for companies from their respective countries who are investing in Ukraine. Similar programs have been established by both the United States’ International Development Finance Corporation as well as the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
Canada has promised its full support to Ukraine, and we agree with EDC President Mairead Lavery that Export Development Canada can play a pivotal role in Ukraine’s long-term reconstruction.
The conflict in Ukraine and deteriorating global situation highlights the need for Canada to step up and play a more active role in supporting peace and security.
We welcome Canada’s materiel support to Ukraine. The war also underscores the importance of the NATO alliance in safeguarding Europe and North America. Canada must at a minimum meet its 2 per cent defence spending commitment. It was once commonplace across the alliance to miss this target, but following the war, many NATO members have either increased spending or have outlined plans to increase spending to reach this level. Canada cannot be an outlier.
Canada in the world
This war marked a turning point in the global economy. Economic security is now a priority across the world, and many nations less blessed with natural resources than Canada are preoccupied with securing a safe reliable supply of energy, food, and other natural resources.
Many likeminded partners are looking to Canada to be a reliable and safe supplier.
In summer 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Canada and clearly stated his country’s interests in Canadian energy, including LNG, as well as hydrogen and critical minerals to power its economy today and into the future.
This visit was followed by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in September 2022 and Japanese Prime Miniter Kishida Fumio earlier this year. In both cases, North Pacific leaders expressed clear desire to enhance their economic and energy security through closer economic linkages to Canada.
Finally, when European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Canada in March this year, the EU outlined how important Canada is as a partner as it pursues a reliable supply of energy and raw materials. Among other issues, leaders committed to a Canada-EU Working Group on Energy Transition and LNG to identify and advance medium-term solutions. As European leadership returns to Canada for the Canada-EU Summit this week, we hope to see some concrete progress toward supporting our partners and allies in Europe.
We believe Canada has an important role to play in ensuring Ukraine wins this war and thrives in the years ahead. Canada also has an important role to play as a stabilizing force in world. Business leaders are eager to partner with government whenever possible to support a more peaceful and prosperous world.