Canada Welcomes Progress at WTO

New trade facilitation agreement will help create jobs and opportunities by cutting red tape and reducing barriers to trade

December 6, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, today concluded his participation at the World Trade Organization’s Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, by welcoming progress that will re-establish the WTO as an organization that advances trade liberalization around the world.

“Last April, as the process to select a new director-general of the WTO was under way, Canada issued a statement outlining the government’s expectations regarding the future of the organization,” said Minister Fast. “I was clear about how there must be a well-defined plan to re-establish the WTO as an institution that can credibly advance multilateral trade liberalization efforts in the best interests of all of its members. The Bali Ministerial Meeting has produced a promising package that includes market access in agriculture, gains for least-developed countries and an important trade facilitation agreement that will improve the movement of goods across international borders.”

A new trade facilitation agreement (TFA) will reduce border transaction costs for Canadians doing business abroad by up to nine percent, directly benefiting small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), for whom border red tape and delays can be particularly burdensome.

The WTO estimates the costs of trading across borders at US$2 trillion, two thirds of which is a result of border and customs procedures. The WTO notes that removing these trade barriers and cutting red tape in half as a result of the TFA could stimulate US$22 trillion world trade by as much as US$1 trillion.

The TFA will introduce binding rules for all WTO members on how goods are handled at borders to reduce bureaucracy and delays. It will ensure that customs procedures and formalities reflect the realities and challenges faced by businesses in the 21st century in areas such as transparency, procedural fairness, release and clearance of goods. The agreement also includes innovative approaches to special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed WTO members, including the potential provision of technical assistance for capacity building.

Members of the Canadian business community, including the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the 2013 Business-20 Trade Task Force and the Retail Council of Canada, have expressed their strong support for a negotiated agreement on trade facilitation.

“Canada believes that trade and investment represent the twin engines of growth for the global economy,” added Minister Fast. “Our government understands that there is no better job creator than freer and more open trade. That’s why we are undertaking the most ambitious and comprehensive free trade plan in Canadian history, the foundation of which is our historic pact with the European Union, the largest and most lucrative market in the world.”

In addition, just over a week ago, Minister Fast released a landmark report entitled Global Markets Action Plan: The Blueprint for Creating Jobs and Opportunities for Canadians Through Trade. The new trade plan reflects the changing and highly competitive global landscape, focuses on core Canadian strengths, identifies priority markets, aligns Canada’s trade, development and foreign policy tools in order to use all of Canada’s diplomatic assets to advance commercial interests around the world, and sets concrete targets to grow the presence of Canada’s SMEs in emerging markets.

Canada will conduct a thorough legal review of the WTO trade facilitation agreement and will consult with industry and business groups, including SME representatives, to inform the government’s next steps.

On the margins of the Ministerial Conference, Minister Fast continued to advance Canada’s interests by meeting with his counterparts from several of Canada’s trading partners, including Germany, Chile, Kuwait, Morocco, Colombia, Mexico, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, South Korea, Peru and Israel. He also announced the conclusion of negotiations on bilateral investment treaties with Guinea and Tanzania, as well as the ratification by Canada of the Revised WTO Government Procurement Agreement.

As part of the Harper government’s ambitious and strategically focused bilateral and regional pro-trade plan, Minister Fast will next travel to Singapore to participate in ministerial meetings with his counterparts from the countries that make up the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

For more information on Minister Fast’s participation at the WTO’s Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, please see Minister Fast Advances Canada’s Interests at WTO Meetings.

- 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