Minister Van Loan Wraps up Free Trade Promotion Visit to Europe

Interest growing for a Canada-European Union economic and trade agreement

(No. 157 - May 7, 2010 - 12:40 p.m. ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today concluded a successful visit to Europe with stops in Stockholm, Brussels and Madrid. He was there to promote Canada’s trade objectives and strengthen commercial relations with important European partners.

During his visit to Europe, Minister Van Loan met with government officials to advance support for the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic And Trade Agreement negotiations.

In Brussels, Minister Van Loan attended the Canada-European Union Summit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Minister also met with European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht as part of a successful third round of economic and trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union. Both sides agreed to take advantage of the strong progress to date to attempt to conclude a final agreement by the end of 2011.

“A comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the EU represents a huge opportunity for Canadian workers and our economy,” said Minister Van Loan. “Both Canada and members of the European Union see the great potential of a closer partnership, which would benefit citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.”

A joint Canada-European Union economic study projected a deal would result in a 20-percent increase in two-way trade and a $12‑billion annual boost to the Canadian economy.

“The very existence of the European Union demonstrates that countries can work together, breaking down barriers for mutual benefit,” said the Minister. “At this time, the importance of trade to grow economies is greater than ever, as countries seek to emerge from the global economic downturn.”

Interest in the potential trade deal in Europe is high. For example, over 120 Spanish business leaders attended a breakfast to hear Minister Van Loan speak about the prospects for a comprehensive economic and trade agreement.

While in Sweden, Minister Van Loan and Minister for Higher Education and Research Tobias Krantz signed a memorandum of understanding on science and technology to strengthen collaboration between Canada and Sweden in this sector.

In meetings with chief executive officers and business leaders in Sweden and Spain, Minister Van Loan promoted Canada’s business and investment advantages and encouraged them to look to Canada for new business opportunities. Discussions centred on how Canada is a top destination for investors, given it has the lowest debt burden in the G7, low inflation, the lowest tax rates on new business investment in the G7, a skilled labour force and a very high quality of life.

The European Union, with its 27 member states and a population of 500 million, is Canada’s second-largest trading partner, after the United States.

For more details on Minister Van Loan’s visit, consult Official visit to Europe and EU-Canada Summit Press Statement.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Monika Bujalska
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Peter Van Loan
Minister of International Trade
613-992-9304

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000