Canada continues to push for freer trade through the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the Doha Development Round.
Agricultural producers, manufacturers and service providers stand to benefit from the expanded access to global markets that a successful outcome would secure.
But at the same time, the Government is also pursuing an ambitious bilateral agenda to secure competitive terms of access for Canadian businesses, investors and innovators.
Making strategic use of the entire suite of international trade policy instruments, the Government is pursuing efforts in those markets where the opportunities are greatest.
Without a doubt, Canada’s most important platform of economic opportunity is North America and its most significant trade instrument is NAFTA.
Since it came into effect, NAFTA has revolutionized continental trade and investment, helping to unlock our region’s full economic potential.
NAFTA has helped to stimulate economic growth and create jobs across Canada. It also paved the way for greater market competition, as well as enhanced choice and purchasing power for Canadian consumers, families, farmers and businesses.
Furthermore, NAFTA has provided North American businesses with better access to materials, technologies, investment capital and talent available across North America.
This has helped make our businesses more competitive, both within North America and around the world. With other economic players like China challenging our competitiveness, NAFTA continues to provide Canada, the U.S. and Mexico with an excellent foundation for strengthening continental commercial linkages.
Canada continues to work closely with its North American partners on a wide range of efforts to keep our borders secure and open to efficient commercial exchanges.
Canada is currently engaged in negotiations with key countries in the Caribbean (CARICOM) and Central America (CA4), the Dominican Republic, Panama, Singapore and South Korea.
Canada recently signed Free Trade Agreements with Peru, Colombia and the European Free Trade Association countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein), and has successfully completed negotiations with Jordan.
Canada has also undertaken joint studies with Japan and the European Union to help determine how to foster closer economic partnerships with these important partners. In early 2009, Canada and India also agreed to initiate exploratory talks towards an economic partnership agreement.
FIPAs provide the protection and predictability investors need when investing in foreign markets. They are being pursued where Canadian investment levels or opportunities for growth are substantial.
Since 2007, Canada has concluded negotiations with India, Jordan, Kuwait, Madagascar and Peru.
Negotiations are ongoing with Indonesia, Mongolia, Vietnam, and Tanzania, while those with China are in the final stages. Exploratory discussions are being pursued with a number of countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Furthermore, updates are nearly complete for Canada’s FIPAs with the six countries that most recently acceeded to the European Union.
Canada’s more than 70 bilateral air services agreements have varying degrees of openness and cover a spectrum of objectives, such as facilitating passenger traffic, enhancing market access, and supporting international shipping and cargo traffic.
Since the announcement of the Blue Skies initiative in November 2006, Canada has successfully negotiated new or updated existing agreements with the European Union, and a number of other countries (Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Panama, Philippines, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States.)
Canada is also engaging in consultations with a number of key bilateral partners, including Australia, Egypt, Japan, Korea and Turkey.
Bilateral S&T arrangements are important tools for forging S&T partnerships and great examples of how countries can join forces, build off each other’s strengths, and put exciting, innovative products to work on the global stage.
Thanks to an agreement with India, for example, Canadian companies have gained an important access point to a recognized world leader in mathematics, science and technology and education.
A similar agreement with China is helping Canadian innovators bring their work to market more quickly.
Other arrangements have been signed with Brazil, the EU, France, Germany, Israel, Japan and Korea. Moving forward, the Government is looking to pursue new S&T arrangements with Chile, the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Mexico.