Interview: Justin Trudeau
To what extent is the Canadian government working together with the UN and Colombian authorities to ensure support for Venezuelan refugees?
JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Canada and Colombia are working closely together as partners in the Lima Group, to address the most pressing needs of Venezuelans and to help neighbouring countries support them too. In February 2019 Canada announced that it would provide $53m of additional support, of which almost $40m will go directly to Colombia’s assistance efforts. Those funds will also support Colombian communities as they welcome Venezuelan migrants, and transform challenges associated with migration into future opportunities.
How have trade and investment relations between Canada and Colombia changed in the last decade?
TRUDEAU: The signing of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was a milestone in the relationship between the countries. Since the agreement came into force in 2011 it has driven trade and investment between Canada and Colombia, creating new opportunities and good, middle-class jobs in both countries. Our merchandise trade has grown by over 30%, reaching $2bn in 2018. That same year exports of Canadian merchandise to Colombia surpassed the $1bn mark for the first time. Colombia is now Canada’s second-largest destination for merchandise exports in South America, after Brazil. Meanwhile, Canadian direct investment in Colombia recently surpassed $5bn. Colombia has become the fourth-largest destination for Canadian investment in South America, and over 100 of our companies have now set up shop there.
What advice could Canada give Colombia to adequately develop and regulate creative industries?
TRUDEAU: In 2018 our government launched the Creative Export Strategy to promote our creative industries in foreign markets and showcase Canadian talent around the world. As part of that strategy, a Canadian creative industries delegation recently travelled to Colombia, Mexico and Argentina to share best practices, find ways to collaborate and ultimately, create new opportunities for people in our creative industries.
We hope that the strategy can serve as a source of inspiration and guidance to officials who are developing policies to expand this business. This open and diverse environment would not be possible without cooperation from all parts of government, as well as a shared commitment to supporting each stage of expression, from creation and production to distribution and participation. Colombia is Canada’s second-largest cultural export market in Latin America. Its focus on growing its creative industries is a win-win for both of our countries, and we look forward to working together to deepen connections between our two industries.
How will Canada’s relations with the Pacific Alliance change if it becomes an associate member?
TRUDEAU: Canada has supported the Pacific Alliance since its inception. In 2012 we became the first nonLatin American observer state, and in 2016 the first observer to sign a Joint Declaration on a Partnership. Canada has invested over $23m to date in support of that agreement. In June 2017 the Pacific Alliance invited Canada to become an associate member, which requires the potential associate to negotiate a comprehensive FTA with the Pacific Alliance. Three of the four Pacific Alliance countries are also signatories to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Negotiations between Canada and the Pacific Alliance present an opportunity to modernise and streamline our existing FTAs and include elements that reflect Canada’s progressive and inclusive approach to trade, such as provisions related to gender equality and minority rights. Above all, a successful FTA with the Pacific Alliance is an opportunity to show the benefits of a more open, interconnected world and strike at the very root of current protectionist anxieties.
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