Minister Van Loan Builds on Free Trade Ties with Governments in Latin America

(No. 266 - August 23, 2010 - 3:40 p.m. ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today kicked off a one-week visit to Latin America. Minister Van Loan is travelling to Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica to highlight the benefits of free trade agreements with Canada. He will also visit Argentina to continue to strengthen economic ties. This visit by the International Trade Minister follows quickly on the passage of legislation to implement the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement by Canada’s Parliament.

In Chile today, Minister Van Loan expressed his relief at the news that miners have been found alive at the Chilean-owned San José mine and recognized Canadian companies’ contribution in the rescue efforts.

“Canadian companies responded to the Government of Chile’s request for assistance following the collapse of the San José copper mine,” said Minister Van Loan. “In collaborating with Chilean authorities in the rescue efforts, they have provided a range of support, including airlift, drilling teams, generators and on-site satellite communications. We are relieved and heartened by the news that the 33 miners are alive and well. We look forward to their rescue and wish them a safe return to their families.”

While in Chile, Minister Van Loan will meet with Minister of External Relations Alfredo Moreno and Minister of Energy Ricardo Raineri. He will also meet with members of the Cámara de Comercio Chile-Canadá [Chile-Canada Chamber of Commerce] to discuss business opportunities in Chile and elsewhere in Latin America. Minister Van Loan will hold meetings with government and business representatives in all the Latin American countries that he is visiting this week to promote Canada’s key commercial interests in the agriculture, mining, energy and financial services sectors.

“We are committed to working with the governments in the region to ensure continued progress in areas of mutual interest, including expanded commercial relations,” said Minister Van Loan. “There are many opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers in Latin America. We are creating the best environment for success.”

An aggressive free trade agenda is key to Canada’s strategy in the region. In addition to Colombia, Costa Rica and Chile, the Harper government recently completed free trade agreements with Peru and Panama. Canada also has a number of other free trade-related initiatives under way in the region to bolster economic growth and prosperity.

“Our government is pursuing an ambitious free trade agenda by concluding and pursuing new free trade agreements with many key partners,” said the Minister. “These agreements help expand trade, encourage economic growth and create jobs. The Americas are a foreign-policy priority for Canada. Canadians have much to gain by being involved in the region, and they also have much to contribute.”

The Government of Canada’s objective for Latin America and the Caribbean is to help build a more prosperous, democratic and secure hemisphere and boost Canada’s presence in the region. To learn more about Canada’s engagement in the Americas, visit Canada and the Americas: Priorities and Progress.

For additional details on Minister Van Loan’s visit, consult Minister Van Loan visits Latin America.

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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

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada