(No. 255 - September 6, 2011 - 6 p.m. ET) The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie), today addressed participants at Forum Africa 2011 in Montreal to highlight the importance of developing strong commercial relations between Canada and African countries, as well as within La Francophonie.
“Canada would like to take every possible opportunity to help francophone communities in Africa and in Canada create strong ties,” said Minister of State Valcourt. “Francophone communities should be able to use La Francophonie as a springboard for their initiatives, such as promoting their region as a tourist destination or investment location, or promoting their goods and services in member countries.”
Minister of State Valcourt addressed the numerous participants in Forum Africa 2011, including company presidents, high-level African and Canadian decision makers, and stakeholders from international and non-governmental organizations. The Forum’s main objective is to provide innovative approaches and tools to increase private investment in Africa.
“By promoting trade liberalization, and by strengthening commercial ties between member countries of La Francophonie, our government supports job creation and economic growth here at home and for our trading partners,” said the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. “Although we are currently experiencing a time of fragile economic recovery, Canada will continue to play a leadership role within La Francophonie to stress the importance of creating economic ties between member countries.”
Over the past few years, the Government of Canada has taken measures to make trade and investment with African countries easier. In January 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the start of negotiations to reach a free trade agreement with Morocco. This was the first time Canada had entered into negotiations of this kind with an African country. Canada is also continuing its efforts to conclude agreements to promote and protect foreign investments with five African countries, and it is taking part in exploratory discussions with several others. These agreements could help Canada and African countries considerably by allowing them to profit from new business opportunities and, at the same time, helping to improve commercial relations between them.
“Economic development opportunities in Africa are closely related to foreign direct investment,” said Minister of State Valcourt. “Canada is in a very good position to meet the continent’s needs. An emerging Africa needs more Canadian expertise, more Canadian technologies and more Canadian universities to create knowledge networks with their African partners.”
In 2010, bilateral trade with Africa reached nearly $13 billion, an increase of 72.5 percent over five years. Canada exports more to Africa than it does to Brazil, India or Russia.
The goal of the International Organisation of La Francophonie is to help improve the standard of living of its populations by helping them to become active players in their own development. La Francophonie supports its member states in the development or consolidation of their policies and conducts international political and multilateral cooperative actions. Of its 75 member states and governments, 31 are African countries.
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