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24th of October 2018


Canadian companies are losing ground to China in the developing world, Trudeau's UN ambassador says | CBC News

If Canadian companies don't start investing more in the developing world, Chinese state-backed firms will see their influence grow, Canada's UN ambassador said ahead of speech by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the UN General Assembly on Monday. 

Trudeau will urge Canadian companies to boost their engagement as part of a push to reduce global poverty under the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development when he addresses world leaders in New York.

The speech urging companies to invest more comes as Canada pushes for a UN Security Council seat amid a geopolitical showdown over "who has influence, who has none," Canada's UN ambassador said.

"There's huge business opportunities for Canada here," Marc-André Blanchard told Chris Hall in an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House. "We just need to think differently about risk."

​The player building the most effective influence through investment in the developing world is currently China, he said. 

"China does it differently. The Chinese government controls its capital. They've invested $120 billion in the last six, seven years in Africa. So they're actually there, building infrastructure. But they do it their own way, with their own principles — which is completely different than if Canada were to do it."

'Offer an alternative'

Blanchard said partnering with China is always an option, "when it's actually good and in the interest of Canada," but said it's important for Canada to invest in the developing world on its own, too.

"We also need to offer an alternative because we can do things in ways that are different and maybe more convenient for countries."

Blanchard used an anecdote to illustrate his point.

"There's an old saying. The Chinese have been going around the world like a good business person with a small bodyguard by its side, looking at opportunities all over. And the West has been going all over the world and rather than seeing business opportunities, [they are] like an insurance company managing risk with a big army by its side."

"We just need to change a little bit of that."

Blanchard said Trudeau will make the argument that a partnership between government and the private sector makes sense for both business and charitable reasons.

"We need to be thinking about how we can contribute to make the world more secure, but also, it creates opportunities for Canadians and our businesses," he said. "That's how we need to look at it."

​Canada's bid for a Security Council seat

Blanchard didn't shy away from discussing Canada's campaign for a UN Security Council seat in 2021, linking the future of Canada's global relevancy to a successful bid. 

"Everybody wants to be at that table. All the conflicts of the world are put on that table," he said. 

"This is a place where Canada can make a difference. It's going to make Canada more relevant in the world, and when we are more relevant in the world, we have more opportunities for Canadians."

Canada has been on the council six times, most recently in 1999 and 2000, but faces steep competition from Ireland and Norway. 

Listen to the full interview with Ambassador Marc-Andre Blanchard below.

Canada's ambassador to the UN weighs in on what he thinks Canada has to do to earn a seat on the Security Council, and how the country can stay relevant in a shifting global landscape. 10:37Read More

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