Minister Fast Highlights Canada’s Trade Successes During North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference

October 28, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, together with Penny Pritzker, the United States’ Secretary of Commerce, and Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, today highlighted how the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has benefited citizens of Canada, the United States and Mexico—creating jobs and prosperity during its nearly 20 years of existence. Speaking at the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference taking place in California, Minister Fast said that NAFTA has placed the three North American countries at the forefront of trade liberalization.

“As we approach the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, Canada’s trading relationship with the United States and Mexico stands as an example to the world of the prosperity-generating power of free and open markets,” said Minister Fast. “Working together, today we’ve pledged to build on this success as we work to enhance North America’s enduring competitiveness through greater regulatory cooperation and other coordinated efforts to facilitate increased trade, including through initiatives such as the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] negotiations.”

On October 18, 2013, Canada and the European Union announced an agreement-in-principle on a landmark trade deal. The 28-country EU represents a market of over 500 million consumers—larger than that of the United States and Mexico combined. It has been estimated that the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement could boost the Canadian economy by $12 billion annually, equivalent to creating 80,000 jobs and boosting the average Canadian family’s income by $1,000 annually.

“While the U.S. and Mexico will always be Canada’s largest and most important trading partners, the historic Canada-EU trade agreement is taking our government’s pro-trade plan to open new markets to the next level,” said Minister Fast. “It means that the advantages that our economy has reaped over the past generation will grow significantly, creating new jobs and opportunities across Canada. With this agreement, Canada will be the only G-8 country and one of the few developed countries in the world to have preferential access to, and a real competitive edge in, the world’s two largest markets—the EU and the United States—giving us access to more than 800 million of the world’s most affluent consumers.”

During the conference, Minister Fast also highlighted some of the bilateral and trilateral initiatives that Canada is working on with the United States and Mexico to continue to build on NAFTA. These initiatives include the Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation Council action plans that will facilitate trade and participation in the 12-nation TPP negotiations. Minister Fast also touched on the important role that energy security plays in the economic successes of all three countries.

Since NAFTA came into force in 1994, Canada and Mexico’s bilateral merchandise trade has grown more than sixfold, surpassing $30 billion annually in 2011 and 2012. In addition, Canada is the fourth-largest investor in Mexico. Since 1994, two-way trade in goods and services between Canada and the United States has more than doubled. In 2012, our bilateral trade in goods and services was $742 billion—equivalent to almost 41 percent of Canada’s GDP.

Since 2006, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), Honduras, Jordan, Panama and Peru. In addition to the recent agreement-in-principle with the EU, Canada is currently pursuing trade agreements with more than 25 countries, including large and dynamic markets such as India, Japan and the countries that comprise the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With the Canada-EU trade agreement, the number of countries with which Canada has free trade agreements will triple from 14 to 42, providing Canada free-trade access to more than half of the entire global marketplace.

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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
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