January 28, 2009 (3:40 p.m. EST)
No. 22

Legislation for Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with EFTA Countries Tabled in Parliament

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today tabled in Parliament legislation to implement Canada’s free trade agreement with the states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)— Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The agreement includes the elimination or reduction of tariffs on selected Canadian agricultural and agri-food products such as durum wheat, frozen french fries, beer and Canadian crude canola oil.

“Trade matters to Canada’s prosperity,” said Minister Day. “Free trade is more important than ever. At a time of economic uncertainty, our government is committed to seeking new opportunities to promote prosperity and long-term growth for all Canadians. This agreement is expected to bring solid economic opportunities for Canadian exporters and importers by enhancing their access to the wealthy and sophisticated EFTA markets.”

The Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement was signed on January 26, 2008, and is expected to come into force by July 1, 2009.

This free trade agreement is Canada’s first such agreement with European countries. It will provide a strategic platform for Canadian companies to tap into value chains both directly in the EFTA countries and indirectly in the European Union. Exporters will benefit through the reduction or elimination of tariffs, while importers will enjoy more affordable access to goods from EFTA countries.

The Government of Canada held extensive consultations with stakeholders throughout the negotiation of this agreement to ensure that their interests and concerns were taken into account.

The agreement is part of Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy, which aims to advance Canada’s commercial interests in key markets through an ambitious free trade agenda. For more information on the strategy, please visit: Seizing Global Advantage.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-6186

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
www.international.gc.ca/commerce

Backgrounder

Canada Tables Legislation to Implement Free Trade Deal with European Free Trade Association

Canada and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland signed a free trade agreement on January 26, 2008, in Davos, Switzerland. The agreement will create greater trading opportunities for all parties by eliminating or reducing tariffs on a range of goods and agricultural products. The negotiations were launched in 1998 and concluded in June 2007.

Highlights of the agreement

  • The elimination of tariffs in all non-agricultural sectors, including aluminum, cosmetics, prefabricated buildings, coldwater shrimp and apparel products.
  • The elimination or reduction of tariffs on selected Canadian agricultural and agri-food products such as durum wheat, frozen french fries, beer and Canadian crude canola oil.
  • Duty-free access to Canadian and EFTA markets for most industrial goods, fish and other marine products.
  • Provisions on subsidies, anti-dumping, state trading enterprises and public procurement in line with World Trade Organization rules.

Canada-EFTA commercial relationship (in 2007)

  • Two-way merchandise trade with EFTA countries totalled $12.9 billion.
  • Canadian merchandise exports to the EFTA region totalled $5.2 billion, and included nickel, precious stones and metals, pharmaceuticals, mechanical machinery, and copper.
  • Canadian merchandise imports from EFTA countries totalled $7.7 billion, and included mineral fuels and oils, pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, mechanical machinery, and scientific and precision instruments.
  • Two-way investment with EFTA countries reached nearly $28.4 billion.

For further information and frequently asked questions on the parliamentary process for this free trade agreement, please visit: Canada - European Free Trade Association (EFTA).