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Canada faces narrow window of opportunity to improve its energy relationship with the United States

Hon. Jim Prentice, Vice Chairman of CIBC, says we need to get our house in order now to be ready to advance a continental agenda that both nations could support

OTTAWA, Feb. 12, 2014 /CNW/ - CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) - Canada needs to put itself in a position of strength if we are to improve and advance our energy relationship with the United States, says the Honorable Jim Prentice, Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice Chairman of CIBC.

Speaking to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa, Mr. Prentice told his audience that Canada needs to get its house in order on a number of fronts if we want our largest trading partner to take our interests seriously.

"We need to respond to the fact that we are a country reliant on trade - but have become too dependent on a single market. Attention must now be turned across the Pacific and over the next few years to put the goal of negotiating accords with some of the leading nations of Asia, including Korea, Japan and China."

He noted that the nature of U.S. politics means that over the next two years in the lead up to the next Presidential election, the focus of American politicians will be increasingly inward. Mr. Prentice noted Canada has a narrow window of opportunity to deliver a meaningful continental agenda and laid out four key objectives achievements Canada needs to deliver on between now and 2017. He said the country must:

  • Move forward - with pace and with purpose - to build the Energy East and Northern Gateway pipelines, among others to give us the ability to export to the emerging markets of Asia and elsewhere;
  • Move forward - again, with pace and with purpose - to build facilities along the B.C. coast to facilitate the export of liquefied natural gas;
  • Initiate and pursue genuine engagement with our native peoples. West coast access for both oil and gas requires the active participation and involvement of First Nations' communities and leaders; and
  • Continue to improve our own environmental performance - developing the world's cleanest electricity system and further reducing the impact of oil and gas production.

"The four imperatives should be pursued in concert - by which I mean: greater output from the oil sands, produced with reduced environmental impact, and delivered across Canada, into the United States and across the ocean to Asia," said Mr. Prentice. "Along with greater natural gas production, shipped to modern facilities along the B.C. coast, and onward to emerging markets. And all this achieved with the active participation of Canada's Aboriginal people.

"As Canadians, we have the resources and the ingenuity required to take the lead in these areas. We have the opportunity to put ourselves in a position of strength from which to engage the Americans on improving and advancing our continental energy relationship."

Mr. Prentice stated that failing to deliver on these imperatives means that when Canada sits down with the new American administration in 2017, it will do so without any leverage. If the U.S. continues to be our only export market for oil, we will be talking to an administration that won't feel compelled or motivated to hear us out on the benefits of further economic and energy integration, he said.

"The key to transforming a relationship is declaring what you want, developing a specific plan to achieve it and demonstrating to your partner that you have the wherewithal to help get it done," he added. "When it comes to energy, these next few years are a Canadian opportunity. What we make of them will help to define the success of our industry - and indeed our economy as a whole - for decades to come.

"As we look to the future, let us be guided by what we've learned from the past - that our relationship with the Americans is crucial to our own economic prosperity, and that opportunities to advance and improve that relationship come along infrequently, and for only brief periods.

"The next window with the U.S. may not open until 2017. When it does, we need to be focused, and confident, and strong. We need to be ready. We cannot afford to waste a moment in preparing."

A copy of Mr. Prentice's speech is available at: http://files.newswire.ca/256/ottawaen.pdf.

About CIBC
CIBC is a leading North American financial institution with more than 11 million personal banking and business clients. CIBC offers a full range of products and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches and offices across Canada, and has offices in the United States and around the world. You can find other news releases and information about CIBC in our Media Centre on our corporate website at www.cibc.com.

SOURCE Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

PDF available at: http://stream1.newswire.ca/media/2014/02/12/20140212_C9607_DOC_EN_36617.pdf

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