Canada unfazed by U.S. competition for infrastructure funds
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Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces a $1.5 billion national Oceans Protection Plan while speaking at HMCS Discovery in Vancouver, B.C., Canada November 7, 2016. REUTERS/Ben Nelms
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By Matt Scuffham
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada is not worried about competing with the United States to draw private investment in infrastructure, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday, adding that the country's long-term stability is attractive to investors.
Canada's government said this month it would set up an infrastructure bank and give it access to C$35 billion ($26 billion) to help fund major projects. It is also engaged in a charm offensive to attract private investors.
However, it faces competition from the United States with President-elect Donald Trump planning $1 trillion of infrastructure spending, relying entirely on investment from the private sector.
"I'm not worried about competing," Trudeau said. "What I'm worried about is highlighting and putting forward the best possible understanding for people of the ease of doing business in Canada, the long-term growth potential here in Canada, the extraordinarily positive and educated workforce."
Trudeau said, in conversations with international investors, he had contrasted the mindset of Canadians with rising nationalism elsewhere.
"People are curious to try and understand in a world where there's a lot of anxiety and populism - whether it’s Brexit, the nationalists in Europe or even the election of the Republican candidate in the United States," Trudeau said.
"They are interested in knowing why Canada remains more open, remains more positive towards refugees and immigration. It’s our reasonableness, and thoughtfulness in our approach to politics that seems to them (international investors) a good predictor of long-term stability for this country," he added.
Canada's government wants to attract $4 to $5 in private funding for every $1 coming from the public purse and is speaking to sovereign wealth funds and global private equity firms as well as domestic pension funds.
Attendees at Monday's event, which was organized by the Canadian government in collaboration with U.S. investment firm BlackRock, included Norway's Norges, which runs one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, the Qatar Investment Authority and Singapore sovereign investor Temasek.
Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau have also expressed a desire to attract investment from Canada's biggest pension plans such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), the Caisse de depot du Quebec and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
The Canadian pension funds, among the world's 10 biggest infrastructure investors, have welcomed the new infrastructure bank and expressed a desire to invest more in Canadian infrastructure having previously been more active overseas.
(Additional reporting by David Ljungren; Editing by James Dalgleish and Cynthia Osterman)
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