Justin Trudeau has spent a lot of time during his visit to China talking about Canada’s openness to trade and investment.
On Wednesday he made that pitch directly to some of the richest and most powerful business leaders in the world.
The prime minister gave the keynote address at the opening of the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou. It’s an invitation-only event that’s best described as the Davos of Asia. It’s intended for big investors, tech titans, leading academics and business scions who will spend three days discussing innovation and openness as the core principles of the economy of the future.
In other words, if you’re looking for foreign investment for your country, if you’re pitching Canada as the cutting edge of the new economy, this is the place to be.
Exclusive guest list
The guest list is small and exclusive. The chairman of Ford Motor Company is here. So are the CEOs of Apple and Ericsson and a host of other Fortune 500 companies, international banks and multinational corporations.
“You’re quite the impressive crowd,” Trudeau said at the opening of his address, a comment that went by with nary a chuckle. The folks here know that.
Trudeau is one of only two heads of government at the forum so he made the most of his featured speaking slot, delivering a sermon most Canadians would recognize. Some might even know it by heart.
“By keeping our borders open, and pursuing progressive trade deals that put people first and reflect our values, we give our businesses access to more customers, and we give our customers greater access to the goods they want. This is the Canadian way. We are, and have long been, a trading nation.”
Pitching in public and private
Trudeau spoke of Canada’s well-educated workforce, and its stable of young entrepreneurs who’ve started companies like Shopify and Hootsuite that compete globally. He talked about recent decisions by Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet to invest in Canada.
And he told them why.
“Our business environment is stable and predictable, which is key when you’re mapping out the next 15-20 years of your company’s growth,” he…