Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International
Trade and Minister for
the Asia-Pacific Gateway
I am pleased to present the 2012 edition of Canada’s State of Trade. This report provides an overall assessment of Canada’s recent international commercial performance and examines some of the key trends and developments in international trade and investment during the past year.
Many challenges continued to restrain the global economic recovery in 2011. Several years after the onset of the recession, many leading economies continue to struggle with weak growth, high unemployment and crises in public finances. As a trading economy, Canada has felt the economic impact of these struggles but has outperformed most other industrialized countries. In fact, between July 2009 and May 2012, our economy created 758,600 net new jobs in Canada, making Canada one of only two G-7 countries to have recouped all of the jobs lost during the global recession. Canada’s fiscal position remains the strongest in the G-7, and the government intends to keep this distinction by charting a path back to balanced budgets over the medium term. As well, both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development forecast that Canada would remain among the leaders of the world’s major economies this year and next. This performance reflects Canada’s sound economic, fiscal and financial sector fundamentals, along with the effective and timely support provided under our Economic Action Plan.
The course of global economic expansion will continue to be uncertain, presenting Canada with many serious challenges and risks but also a number of opportunities. This is why the Economic Action Plan 2012 sets out a comprehensive agenda to bolster Canada’s fundamental strengths and address the important long-term challenges confronting our economy. Our government’s low-tax agenda will ensure that Canada remains an attractive environment for economic success. A clear focus on economic growth, sound public finances and the creation of high-quality jobs will ensure that Canadians’ standard of living continues to improve and remain the envy of the rest of the world.
To further position our country for long-term prosperity, our government is also implementing the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history, one which will create new and deeper trade and economic relationships, particularly with large, dynamic and fast-growing economies. Since 2006, Canada has concluded free-trade agreements with nine countries, as well as foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with 11 countries. Major additional trade agreements are in negotiation, including one with the European Union, the world’s largest trading bloc, and others with leading economies, such as Japan and India. Our most important current trade partnership—with the United States—is also being bolstered, with the implementation of the joint Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, and the joint Action Plan on Regulatory Cooperation, which will facilitate trade and investment flows within the integrated North American economy. In June 2012, Canada welcomed the announcement by TPP members of their support for Canada joining the TPP. A TPP agreement will enhance trade in the Asia-Pacific region and will provide greater economic opportunity for Canadians and Canadian businesses.
Opening markets for Canadian exporters is one part of the Government of Canada’s strategy. In 2007, the government launched the Global Commerce Strategy to respond to changes in the global economy and position Canada for long-term prosperity. This led to five years of Canadian leadership on the world stage in support of open trade, job creation, economic growth and prosperity for Canadians. Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes to refresh the Global Commerce Strategy through extensive consultations with Canada’s business community, including the very critical category of small and medium-sized businesses. An updated Global Commerce Strategy will align Canada’s trade and investment objectives with specific high growth priority markets and ensure that Canada is positioned to its greatest advantage within each of those markets.
Canada’s State of Trade 2012 shows that Canada’s international trade has recovered strongly, in spite of a challenging economic environment. The report is a testimony to the strength and adaptability of Canadian businesses and workers and to the quality of our products and services.
Our government will continue to work together with businesses, investors and all Canadians to keep this country a strategic business location with all the advantages of a strong, resilient and competitive economy.
The Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade
and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway