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Québec, le 15 septembre 2014 Allocution du premier ministre du Québec, Philippe Couillard, à l’occasion du forum du Industrial Asset Management Council

The spoken version takes precedence.

Monsieur Carl Viel, président-directeur général, Québec International,

Monsieur Roger Nesti, président de l'IAMC (Industrial Asset Management Council),

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs,
Bienvenue au Québec,

As Premier of Québec, I would first like to welcome you to the heartland of French culture in North America.

We are delighted to welcome you here for this important Forum.

In Québec, you will find a taste of Europe right here on our continent.

Our story goes back to the French who decide to venture on the Atlantic Ocean and discover this land.

For the past couple of days, many of you must have had the opportunity to visit Québec city. As you might know, we celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008.

This city played a great role in the construction of Canada and today, Québec city is one of the most innovative cities in the country.

Like all societies that were built here, our ancestors had courage, vision, determination and creativity to withstand the elements and work together to achieve common goals.

More than 400 years of history later, Québec plays a leadership role in Canada.

I hope your presence here will deepen your interest in Québec. I’ll help a little today by painting a broad picture of how we are working to define Québec’s economic space.

We want to continue to build a mutually beneficial and a long lasting relationship with the United States and our fellow Canadians.

As you well know, the North American manufacturing industry went through tough changes in the recent years. The economic crisis of 2009 was felt all around the world and affected thousands of companies.

Today, we are seeing positive signs of recovery but are not out of the woods yet.

As a continent, we need to work together to retain our competitive advantages.

Many factors influence our capacity to succeed. Our government has the responsibility to create an environment that will foster growth and investment.

More than ever, we believe that Québec has all the necessary assets to generate large investment projects and be recognized here and abroad.

Québec is not only a great place to live; it’s a competitive business environment.

In Québec, for the industrial sector, the price paid for electricity in 2013 was:

  • 36% lower than the United States
  • 61% lower than in the OECD countries
  • 66% lower than in the G7

With a corporate tax rate of 26.9% in 2014, Québec boasts one of the most competitive rates for manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies in North America.

Québec’s economy is characterized by its diversification, skilled, high-quality labour, a wealth of natural resources including hydro power as well as a strategic geographical location.

It is also defined by its world class institutions of higher learning.

There are some important initiatives that I would like to point out:

  • First we created the Plan Nord –

One of the largest economic and sustainable development projects on the planet. Plan Nord aims to develop our northern territory which is more than 2 times the size of France.

Then, Québec was at the forefront of trade talks which will soon yield the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union – “CETA” – the most comprehensive trade agreement Canada will have ever signed.

And now, we are continuing to define our economic space with another axis – the Maritime Strategy. This initiative will enhance commerce throughout the St-Laurence river and give improved access to North Americas most inland ports.

We are also basing our economy on three other pillars :

  • Our SME's, which create 75% of new jobs in Québec;
  • Our vast natural resources;
  • The incorporation of carbon pricing through a joint cap and trade system with the State of California, which will help our transition towards a low carbon economy.

We will provide ongoing support to our areas of excellence, such as aeronautics, life sciences and IT.

In other words, Québec continues to position itself as a pivotal economic space between Europe and North America.

With our European roots, and our North American history, we are the transatlantic gateway to commerce for both our European and North American business partners.

For a long time, geography has determined our trade relations, with a large share going to the Northeastern United States and generating over $25 billion of trade value in 2013.

The American market as a whole continues to be a preferred market for our companies and generated over $73 billion in trade value in 3013. It’s a long standing relationship and a market that we continue to develop.

Investment between both sides of the Atlantic already represents a substantial percentage of global trade. After all, the transatlantic area is made up of developed countries, with similar regulatory and cultural environments.

We see the European market as a preferred partner and it has become our second-largest economic partner after the United States.

In 2013, Québec exports to Europe amounted to $6.8 billion, representing 10.4% of all international exports from Québec.

Similarly, Québec also imported close to $20 billion of goods from Europe.

This trade activity will increase overtime for a number of reasons, most notably because of CETA.

With its 500 million consumers, the European Union is a powerful economic force.

It’s also the world’s largest public procurement market, valued at close to $2,7 trillion annually.

For its part, Québec enables access to a key North American market, offering a favourable business environment for the development and strengthening of business and technology partners.

Québec has implemented the tools necessary to encourage European businesses to accelerate their growth and the commercialization of their products in North America.

This economic agreement is thus a promising avenue to:

  • Establish new collaborations between our two continents;
  • Strengthen previously existing partnerships; and
  • Offer new, wider-reaching business opportunities to Québec businesses.

CETA is the largest free trade agreement negotiated by Canada since the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 (NAFTA).

We are proud of our free trade agreement track record which allows Québec greater access to:

  • North America
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Israel
  • Peru
  • Colombia
  • Jordan
  • Panama
  • most recently, Honduras
  • And soon CETA between Canada and the EU

With regard to public procurement, Canada presents to the European Union the most comprehensive offer that has ever been made as part of a free trade agreement.

This agreement is a huge step, which advances Québec on the world stage.

Moreover, by establishing themselves here, American companies will also benefit from the non-tariff access to Europe’s markets and enjoy positive spinoffs from this agreement.

By choosing Québec, American companies will also be able to participate in such large investment projects as the Plan Nord and Maritime Strategy, utilizing the expertise of our companies.

These are two major projects that will create numerous business opportunities here in Québec.

Québec launched the Plan Nord in 2011 – an ambitious plan aimed at the development of Northern Québec above the 49th parallel.

We see this territory as a powerful economic engine, a world class tourism destination and an opportunity for a great biodiversity conservation project.

Our government is moving forward to accelerate investment and maximize the economic benefits across all regions of Québec with the involvement of local communities.

In pursuing the development of Northern Québec, we confirm our commitment to making this region a major engine of economic development for all of Québec.

To support this commitment, my government is creating Capital Mines Hydrocarbures, a $1 Billion dollar fund which sole purpose is to acquire equity interests in Québec’s mineral resources projects.

The Maritime Strategy is yet another major economic initiative that will drive wealth creation, employment and private investment in all of our regions.

It will enable us to responsibly draw on the St. Lawrence River’s full potential through:

  • increased access to the port of Montreal;
  • multimodal network and strategic infrastructure investments;
  • as well as offer an integrated tourism strategy to fend off competition in the cruise ship industry.

However, to achieve the Strategy’s objectives, we need modern and reliable ships.

That is why my government intends to provide additional support for Québec's ship owners and cruise lines in their efforts to upgrade and replace their fleet, while building expertise in the province’s shipyards.

As such, we offer an additional 50% depreciation deduction for building or renovating ships.

We have also announced the creation of a tax-free reserve to finance ship maintenance, renovation and construction projects awarded to Québec shipyards.
These measures will reinforce the competitiveness of our maritime transport industry, while securing and creating highquality jobs.

The Maritime Strategy will also be an opportunity for Québec to establish itself as a major logistical hub for commercial goods handling in North America.

This way, we will be able to harness the opportunities presented by CETA and the substantial growth anticipated in maritime transport.
To support the eagerly awaited development of the OntarioQuébec Trade Corridor and reinforce access to the American marketplace, our government also plans to establish a multimodal logistics hub in the Montréal area that will offer significant added value and facilitate the flow of goods in and out of the St. Lawrence River.

By investing in our port infrastructure, intermodal network and the revitalization of Québec’s shipyards, the Maritime Strategy will spur employment and economic growth province-wide.
The Strategy is also a direct extension of our efforts to strengthen economic ties between Canada and Europe.

We hope to turn Québec into the centre of transatlantic traffic and international trade between Europe and North America.

Via the port of Montréal, Québec, Sept-Iles and others, it offers the shortest route between Europe and the Midwestern United States.  

The Maritime Strategy will therefore permit businesses operating in Québec to increase exports to new global markets.

Thanks to this strategy, the Plan Nord and the CETA, Québec reaffirms its determination to be a dynamic trading platform.

This landscape would not be complete if I did not mention that Québec is the 4th largest hydropower distributor in the world. We have a clean and a renewable source of energy.

With this great asset, we can extend our partnerships with our neighbours and attract investments. It’s a great competitive advantage that we intend to use wisely.

Let me conclude by saying that Québec is making its business to be a partner for growth and for trade. Through Plan Nord, CETA, our maritime strategy and hydropower, we know that Québec businesses, North America and Europe will grow stronger.

Thank you.


Online as of: September 15, 2014


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