Minister Fast Concludes Successful Trade and Investment Visit to Middle East and Turkey

Harper government continues to create new opportunities for Canadian exporters in priority markets

August 28, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, today wrapped up a productive and successful trade- and investment-promotion visit to meet with government officials and business leaders in the Middle East and Turkey to advance Canada’s key trade and investment interests.

“Opening new markets, creating jobs and prosperity for workers and families and creating new opportunities for Canadian businesses are central to our government’s pro-trade plan,” said Minister Fast. “Canadian companies are world-class corporate citizens committed to sharing their knowledge and expertise throughout this region. The future is bright for Canada’s engagement with the Middle East and Turkey, and we are committed to helping exporters succeed here.”

Today in Jeddah, Minister Fast met with top officials and attended a round table with Canadian businesses, including those companies that accompanied the Minister on a trade mission to Saudi Arabia in October 2012, to celebrate their successes in the Saudi Arabian market.

In Ankara, Minister Fast congratulated iBoard, the Canadian makers of interactive whiteboards for classrooms, on their joint venture with Turkey’s Termikel group. In Istanbul, he met with Zafer Çağlayan, Turkey’s Minister of Economy, where the two ministers agreed to establish a joint economic and trade committee to find concrete means of expanding trade and investment.

Minister Fast also highlighted Canada’s strong and growing leadership in the field of international education when he visited the new building in downtown Istanbul that will be home to LaSalle International Academy, starting in September. He also met with officials from Algonquin College, which is building campuses in Kuwait City and Jazan.

Minister Fast began his trade visit in Kuwait, where he officially opened the first Tim Hortons restaurant in Kuwait City. In a meeting with Anas Khalid Al-Saleh, Kuwait’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, the ministers announced that the first meeting of the Canada-Kuwait Joint Committee on Trade and Investment Co-operation would be held in November. The ministers also jointly announced the opening in the fall of a visa application centre for Kuwaiti applicants. 

“I am pleased to see that Canadian businesses are achieving real success in the region,” said Minister Fast. “Our government will continue to deepen Canada’s trade and investment ties in priority markets and help our businesses succeed abroad, which in turn creates jobs and increases prosperity at home.”

Canada-Turkey bilateral merchandise trade totalled a record high $2.3 billion in 2012, up 49.7 percent from 2010. Canadian investments in Turkey stood at about $909 million in 2012. 

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a group of six nations that is a priority market for Canada. The GCC comprises the most prosperous countries in the Middle East, and has a rapidly growing economy worth $1.5 trillion. Building on their immense success in the oil industry, the GCC countries are seeking to diversify their economic base and reinvest a substantial amount of their surplus capital in massive infrastructure projects, including hospitals, medical centres and educational institutions.

Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and GCC nations exceeded $6.7 billion in 2012, with exports from Canada up 42 percent over the past five years.

For additional details, please consult Minister Fast Visits Middle East and Turkey.

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade