Canada and Panama Committed to Improving Trade Ties

Trade Minister Fast says reintroduction of free trade legislation and new direct flights between Canada and Panama will bolster trade, create jobs and benefit both countries

(No. 167 - June 17, 2011 - 12:45 p.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that Canada will move quickly to reintroduce implementing legislation for the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement. Minister Fast made the announcement during his remarks to the Panama-Canada Chamber of Commerce in Toronto. On the margins of this event, Minister Fast will also meet with Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Roberto Henríquez.

“As we celebrate our 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Panama, our government remains committed to ratifying the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement. This is why we plan to reintroduce legislation this fall to quickly move ahead with the implementation of the agreement and parallel agreements on labour cooperation and the environment,” said Minister Fast. “We want Canadian exporters, investors and workers to start benefiting as soon as possible from the increased commercial opportunities this agreement will create.”

“The free trade agreement will generate increased export and investment opportunities for Canadians by creating a preferential and more predictable business environment,” said Minister Fast. In addition, the agreement will secure access to the Government of Panama’s procurement market, including for the $5.4-billion expansion of the Panama Canal and other infrastructure projects.

Trade and investment will also be facilitated with the launch yesterday of Copa Airlines’ inaugural flight from Panama City to Toronto—one of four regularly scheduled direct flights between the two countries each week—and the future launch of Air Transat services from Montreal and Toronto to Panama City, scheduled for November 2011.

“Having these carriers flying in and out of Canada every week speaks to the expanding business and tourism between our nations,” said Minister Fast. “Facilitating travel will in turn create business opportunities that contribute to jobs and prosperity for Canadians.”

In 2010, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Panama totalled $213.7 million, a 62-percent increase from 2009. Canadian merchandise exports to Panama increased by over 41 percent and included aircraft, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment and agriculture products.

For additional details, please consult the Panama Invest Toronto 2011 Conference.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Adam Taylor
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-7332

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