On January 25, 2008, following their mission to Europe, Québec premier Jean Charest and Raymond Bachand, Québec’s minister of economic development, innovation and export trade, minister of tourism, and minister responsible for the Montréal region, took stock of their visit to politicians and business communities in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium in order to promote an economic partnership agreement between Canada and the European Union.
In a government press release, the premier noted that, “Since we launched the project right here in Davos just over a year ago, it has continued to make progress. On both sides of the Atlantic, work has begun on the joint study announced in June 2007 at the Canada-European Union Summit, and I can see that the people we spoke with in Europe are interested in the proposed agreement.”
The premier traveled to Paris and London before the World Economic Forum in Davos, while Mr. Bachand went on a mission to Germany. In total, they discussed project implementation with some fifteen political representatives.
The minister and premier also met individually with representatives of 20-odd multinationals with interests in Canada and Europe. The press release notes that a number of them had already signed or went on to sign the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business (CERT) declaration. The declaration in support of a Canada-E.U. economic partnership agreement has already been signed by over 60 of the biggest businesses in Europe and Canada, according to the press release.
Leaders of German business associations such as the Federation of German Industry, which represents close to 100,000 businesses and over 8 million salaried workers, also met with the minister and premier, “who made them aware of the project’s importance and asked for the support of their members.” Finally, Mr. Charest and Mr. Bachand also spoke to business audiences, including 500 people at the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.
For a second consecutive year, the premier took an active role in activities at the World Economic Forum in Davos, acting among other things as a resource person at a working dinner on globalization and cultural diversity. The press release states that he used the opportunity to share Québec’s experience in promoting and defending cultural diversity.
“The Davos Forum is a unique occasion. No other event brings together as many of the world’s political and economic decisionmakers in one place. It is an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others and have others benefit from our own experience,” said the premier.
Throughout the mission, a string of business meetings were held with foreign companies already present in Québec or interested in setting up shop there.
“Not only does Québec have a solid economy, but also a highly attractive business environment. Over the course of this mission, we held a series of meetings to encourage European businesses to come to Québec or expand here. We praised the quality of Québec’s labor force, its fiscal environment, and the many tools available such as Québec’s Research and Innovation Strategy to convince everyone we spoke with to invest in Québec. I am confident that our discussions will bear fruit in the months to come,” declared Mr. Bachand.