International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan Promotes Canada’s Free Trade Agenda and Engagement in the Americas

Canada committed to enhance commercial relations in the region

(No. 299 - September 17, 2010 - Noon ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today met with members of the Canadian Council for the Americas in Toronto, where he outlined Canada’s accomplishments in the hemisphere, including boosting trade and investment in the region.

“Canada is a leader in free trade, with an aggressive agenda of trade negotiations, including in the Americas,” said Minister Van Loan. “During my recent visit to Latin America, I announced that Canada and Costa Rica would work toward modernizing the existing free trade agreement. Our government is also planning to table a bill to implement the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement in the next session.”

The Government of Canada is actively pursuing and concluding new free trade agreements with key partners in Latin America. In addition to the existing free trade agreements with Chile, Costa Rica and Peru, Parliament recently passed legislation to implement the free trade agreement with Colombia, and Canada signed a free trade agreement with Panama. Canada also has free trade-related initiatives under way to bolster economic growth and prosperity in the region, including negotiations with the Central America Four (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), the Caribbean Community and the Dominican Republic.

“We are proud of our accomplishments in the Americas—from supporting development and security, to helping our friends in Haiti and Chile respond to devastating natural disasters, to boosting trade and investment through a range of free trade negotiations and commercial successes,” said Minister Van Loan. “Our government is committed to creating new opportunities for Canadian businesses interested in operating in Latin America. Canadian businesses and workers can compete with the best in the world, and our government wants to help them do it through freer trade and open markets.”

In 2009, Canadian investment in Latin America reached close to $123 billion, and two-way merchandise trade was almost $19 billion. The stock of Canadian direct investment in Latin America and the Caribbean totalled almost $128 billion at the end of 2009. According to a report released in July by the Economic Commission for Latin America, the region’s economy should grow more than 5 percent this year.

Latin America is a key element of Canada’s ambitious free trade strategy. In less than four years, in addition to the free trade agreements concluded in the Americas, the Government of Canada has completed new free trade agreements with Jordan and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The Government of Canada has also entered into free trade negotiations with the European Union—the most significant Canadian trade initiative since the North American Free Trade Agreement—and is engaged in exploratory discussions on a comprehensive economic partnership with India, one of the world’s largest economies.

The Government of Canada is maintaining an integrated and sustained approach to its engagement in the Americas. Key to Canada’s success is strong collaboration with partners in the region and in Canada, including provinces, businesses, academics and non-governmental organizations active in the Americas.

- 30 -

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