Minister Ablonczy Announces Latest Milestone in Pro-trade Plan to Open New Markets for Canadian Exports

The Canada-Panama trade agreement will come into force on April 1, 2013, generating jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians

March 17, 2013 - The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), on behalf of the Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement will enter into force on April 1, 2013.

Minister Ablonczy made the announcement on the margins of the Inter-American Development Bank meeting in Panama City. She was joined by Fernando Núñez Fábrega, Panama’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and by several representatives of the Canadian business community in Panama.

“I am very pleased to mark this important step in Canada’s deepening partnership with Panama—a country that boasts one of the fastest-growing markets in our hemisphere and that serves as a strategic gateway to Latin America,” said Minister Ablonczy. “This free trade agreement, a key part of our government’s plan to strengthen our relationships in the Americas, will cement the ties between our nations and help us build greater prosperity for the peoples of our hemisphere.”

The Harper government is committed to opening new markets and strengthening existing trade relationships to increase Canadian exports to the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing economies and regions. Free trade is a cornerstone of the government’s plan to keep Canadians on the path toward greater economic prosperity. This agreement is key to the government’s work in opening new markets and increasing Canadian exports as part of the most ambitious trade expansion plan in the nation’s history.

“The entry into force of the agreement is a significant milestone, one that will have immediate benefits for Canadian exporters,” said Minister Fast. “The agreement will immediately eliminate tariffs on more than 90 percent of Canadian goods exported to Panama, benefiting a wide range of sectors, including aerospace, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, and agriculture and agri-food.”

The Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement is expected to increase export and investment opportunities for Canadians by creating a preferential and more predictable trade and investment environment. In addition, the agreement will give Canadian suppliers preferred access to the government procurement market in Panama. The Panamanian government has a five-year plan to invest in major infrastructure projects worth $13.4 billion.

Panama is an important market for Canada and a strategic hub of commercial activity in Central America, the Caribbean and the Andean region of South America. It is Canada’s third-largest merchandise-export market in Central America, with bilateral merchandise trade reaching $213.6 million in 2012. Since 2009, the bilateral trading relationship has grown by 62 percent. Increasing economic opportunity in the Americas has been a Canadian foreign policy priority since 2007.

In less than six years, the Harper government has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In addition, Canada is in ongoing trade negotiations with the European Union, India, Japan, and the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Canada also has observer status in the Pacific Alliance.

For more information, please visit Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement.

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