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Harper Government Talks Trade, Holds Budget Consultations with Montreal’s Business Community

International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan discusses upcoming budget, the economy and Canada’s ambitious free trade agenda on visit to Montreal

(No. 64 - February 14, 2011 - 10 a.m. ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today discussed the upcoming budget, the benefits of Canada’s low-tax plan and the Harper government’s ambitious free trade agenda with the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Manufacturers & and Exporters and the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie Al Maghreb au Canada [Canada-Maghreb Chamber of Commerce and Industry].

“The economy remains our government’s top priority. With the economic recovery still fragile, we are moving forward with our low-tax plan and focusing on creating jobs for Canadians,” said Minister Van Loan during his visit to Montreal. “That is why we are holding budget consultations with Canada’s business community and seeking input on how best to move our economic recovery forward and create future growth. That is also why our government is committed to opening new global markets for Canadian businesses and Canadian workers.”

During the meeting, Minister Van Loan also highlighted the benefits of a Canada-European Union trade agreement. Negotiation toward a trade deal with the European Union is Canada’s most important trade initiative since the signing of NAFTA.

“The European Union is Canada’s second-largest trade partner and the world’s wealthiest single market,” said Minister Van Loan. “This ambitious trade agreement will open new markets for Canadian businesses and create jobs for Canadian workers.”

A trade agreement between Canada and the European Union stands to boost Canada’s economy by at least $12 billion annually and increase Canada’s trade with Europe by 20 percent a year. The sixth round of negotiations was held January 17 to 21, 2011, in Brussels, with the next round of talks scheduled for April in Ottawa.

During his visit to Montreal, Minister Van Loan also consulted the Canada-Maghreb Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the upcoming budget and discussed the Canada-Morocco free trade talks. Morocco is the latest addition to Canada’s impressive list of trade negotiations. The Canada-Morocco free trade negotiations were launched by Prime Minister Harper during his recent visit to that country.

“A free trade agreement with Morocco would be Canada’s first with an African country,” said Minister Van Loan, who joined Prime Minister Harper in Morocco for the launch of the free trade talks. “It is yet another example of the Harper government opening new markets and creating new opportunities for Canadians.”

Canada’s government is committed to a broad and ambitious free trade agenda. Since 2006, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with eight countries: Colombia, Peru, Jordan, Panama and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Canada is currently in free trade negotiations with close to 50 countries and is also in discussions to expand existing first-generation free trade agreements with Chile, Costa Rica and Israel.

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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