Minister Fast Says a Canada-EU Agreement Will Boost Atlantic Canada’s Economy

An agreement will create jobs and opportunity for businesses and workers across Atlantic Canada

(No. 265 - September 14, 2011 - 3:15 p.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and Gerald Keddy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and for the Atlantic Gateway, today toured the Clearwater seafood facility in Halifax and met with workers and business leaders from the area to discuss the benefits a Canada-EU trade agreement would bring to Atlantic Canada.

“The economy remains our number one priority,” said Minister Fast. “The benefits of a Canada-EU trade agreement are expected to be enormous: a 20-percent boost in two-way trade; a $12-billion-annual boost to Canada’s economy; and preferential market access for Canadian businesses to the world’s largest single common market, foreign investor and trader. With one in five Canadian jobs directly or indirectly dependent on trade, expanding Canada’s trading relationships is crucial to protecting and strengthening the financial security of hard-working Canadians.”

In Atlantic Canada, where fish and seafood is an important export sector to the EU, current tariffs average 11 percent but are as high as 25 percent on some products. Canada is seeking to completely eliminate tariffs on all fish and seafood products under the agreement. This will lower costs for Canadian firms doing business in the European Union, the largest fish import market in the world, valued in excess of US$24 billion annually.

“We know that businesses that succeed abroad create jobs and prosperity here at home,” said Parliamentary Secretary Keddy. “Removing tariffs in such a vital Atlantic-Canadian sector will allow businesses to increase benefits, hire new workers and help families whose budgets are stretched.”

“A trade agreement with the European Union would give businesses on the East Coast a level playing field on which to expand, compete and invest for growth and to benefit workers,” said Ian Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Clearwater. “We welcome the government’s efforts to strengthen the transatlantic ties that make our economies stronger.”

In less than six years, the Harper government has concluded new free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the four members of the European Free Trade Association.

Canada is also in discussion with many more countries, including India—one of the largest, most promising markets in the world.

“In this fragile global economic climate, Canadians remain concerned about their jobs and their children’s future,” said Minister Fast. “Our government has a plan to meet these challenges—a plan based on delivering free trade leadership, defending Canadian interests and opposing protectionist measures, which history has shown stall growth and kill jobs.”

For more information, please visit: A Canada-EU trade agreement will boost Atlantic Canada’s economy.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
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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