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Minister Fast Wraps up Successful Visit to Brazil and Paraguay Promoting Jobs and Opportunities

Minister led 19 companies on trade mission and launched exploratory trade talks with Mercosur, South America ’s largest common market

(No. 185 - June 29, 2011 - 4 p.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today wrapped up his first international trip as minister. From June 23 to 29, Minister Fast visited Brazil and Paraguay, working on behalf of the Government of Canada and Canadian workers and companies to strengthen Canada’s commercial relationships in the fast-growing market of the Americas.

“Our government was given a strong mandate by Canadians to expand trade opportunities, including here in the Americas, to benefit Canadian workers and families,” said Minister Fast. “Canadians understand that trade is a kitchen table issue—one that concerns jobs and how people put food on the table and provide for their families. An open, strong and resilient global economy creates economic growth, more jobs and financial security for Canadians across the country.”

In Brazil, Minister Fast led 19 Canadian companies on a trade mission focused on Brazil’s dynamic infrastructure sector as the country prepares to host the 2014 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Brazil is also undertaking an infrastructure development initiative worth US$805 billion called the Accelerated Growth Program.

“The trade mission exceeded my expectations in Rio de Janeiro, and provided guidance for going forward with the tremendous opportunities in Brazil,” said Dilip Ghose, Business Development Executive, Troy Life & Fire Safety Ltd., and a participant on the trade mission.

“The Brazilian representatives I’ve met have all been interested in potential collaboration with Canadian firms, and Minister Fast’s speeches confirmed that Canada is actively promoting a stronger trading relationship between our country and Brazil along with other South American countries,” said Donald Ferguson, Associate, IBI Group, and another participant.

“I was pleased by the contacts our Canadian companies were able to make during this trade mission,” said Minister Fast. “When Canadian workers and companies succeed abroad, Canadian families back home benefit.”

While in Brazil, Minister Fast also met with representatives of Canadian companies active in the country, as well as government leaders. These were Fernando Pimentel, Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade; Ruy Nogueira, acting minister of external relations; Aloizio Mercadante, Minister of Science and Technology; and Edison Lobão, Minister of Mining and Energy. They discussed the ways Brazil and Canada could work together to create jobs and increase prosperity in both countries and also globally.

“Brazil is a priority market for Canada,” said Minister Fast. “We wish to further develop our dynamic, wide-ranging and multi-faceted trading relationship. We recognize the importance of Brazil as a major economic player and a strategic partner for Canada globally, regionally and bilaterally.”

Prior to his visit to Brazil, Minister Fast visited Paraguay, where he announced that Canada is moving ahead with exploratory discussions to enhance its trade relationship with South America’s largest common market, Mercosur, whose members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. This announcement followed a meeting with Jorge Lara Castro, Paraguay’s Minister of External Relations. Mercosur countries represent a market of nearly 250 million consumers and account for almost three quarters of all economic activity in South America.

“We are aggressively pursuing our job-creating trade plan,” said Minister Fast. “Our government received a strong mandate to expand opportunities for Canadian workers and companies in the world’s fastest-growing markets in order to create good new jobs for Canadian families. Since 2006, for example, the Government of Canada has signed free trade agreements with eight countries, and negotiations covering some 50 more are under way. As the WTO Trade Policy Review: Canada recently pointed out, ‘Canada’s considerably expanded FTA [free trade agreement] agenda marks a departure with its past practice’.”

In 2010, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean was almost $24 billion, up 22 percent from 2009.

For more information on the Minister’s visit, please consult Minister Fast Visits Paraguay and Brazil.

The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway (left centre), with delegates of Canadian companies participating in the Brazil trade mission.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

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

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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