Canada-South Africa Business Networking Luncheon (South Africa)
Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Thank you for welcoming me so warmly. I am pleased to have the opportunity to visit this modern stock exchange and to meet with business leaders during my State visit to South Africa.
Those of you who have gathered for this luncheon are a reflection of the many commercial interests that unite Canada and South Africa.
Many, if not most, of you have existing ties to Canada. As someone who strongly believes in the power of collaboration to build smarter, more caring and prosperous societies, I look on this fact with great optimism.
For many years, our two countries have been significant partners in trade and development. Our commercial links are founded upon our friendship and shared values as modern, diverse and democratic societies.
Our successes are numerous and not to be taken for granted. But as you know, we have such potential for further collaboration.
I am happy to note the ways in which our commercial ties are deepening and maturing. Among the key sectors of interest for Canadians in South Africa are mining, agriculture and agri-food, transportation, ICT, and engineering and consulting services.
Before arriving here today, my delegation and I took a wonderful ride on the high-speed Gautrain. As we watched the landscape pass by at 160 kilometres per hour, it was gratifying to know that this efficient service was the product of Canadian transportation company Bombardier, known not only for its rail systems, but for aircraft as well.
I note that many of you in the room have the BlackBerry smartphone by your side. The BlackBerry, so favoured by business people worldwide and popular in the personal market, is the remarkable creation of the Waterloo, Ontario, company formerly known as Research in Motion—now inevitably and officially known as BlackBerry. I know that Peter Braid, the Canadian member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, who is here with us today, is proud to know that this device has become the leading smartphone here in South Africa.
Of course, many varieties of wonderful South African wine can be found in outlets across Canada, and Canadian winters would be rather bleak without the fresh fruit that makes its way from South Africa to Canada in significant volumes especially at that time of year.
This agri-food trade exists alongside the long-standing bilateral trade in mining equipment and services that links our two mining sectors. I understand that some years ago, several enterprising South Africans devised equipment that resulted in an improved solution for extracting oil from the oil sands that is still in use today and continues to be reflected as an import in our trade statistics.
Canadians are also eager to expand the level of co-operation between our two countries in higher education, a sphere of particular interest to me as a former teacher and university administrator. The Square Kilometre Array Telescope Project and our support for the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences are two examples that highlight our academic and private-sector collaboration.
In learning and in business, Canada and South Africa have so much to offer each other. Our many partnerships are examples of what I call the diplomacy of knowledge, defined as our ability to learn and innovate together across borders and disciplines. Time and again in my life, I have seen how remarkable things can happen when people come together in common cause.
As governor general, I can assure you that Canada welcomes the opportunity to develop stronger business and educational ties with South Africa.
And as you know, many Canadians see this country as an important gateway to Africa.
For two countries located at opposite ends of the globe, our relationship is in many ways significant, but the potential is that there could be so much more. Together, we can help one another to develop, grow and diversify.
The challenges that exist in both our countries make it all the more essential for us to explore this potential with the aim of achieving mutual prosperity, sustainability and social responsibility. When it comes to increasing financial wealth and societal well-being in the 21st century, our choice is not “either/or,” but rather “and/both.”
Today, Canadians and South Africans have a wonderful opportunity to deepen our relationship for mutual benefit.
Our commercial ties can also strengthen our friendship as peoples and as Commonwealth partners. Let us therefore work together to create the smarter, more caring societies of which we dream.
I look forward to hearing your ideas and plans for doing so.