Minister Fast Highlights Harper Government’s Pro-trade Plan in Speech to Vancouver Board of Trade

Deeper trade a win-win for Canada and its trading partners, says Minister

(No. 322 - October 28, 2011 - 4 p.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today reiterated in a speech to members of the Vancouver Board of Trade the Harper government’s commitment to deepening Canada’s trading relationships in priority markets around the world. Minister Fast also promoted Canada’s competitive advantages through the Asia-Pacific Gateway and noted that with increased trade comes improved prosperity, strengthened financial security and a higher standard of living in both developed and developing countries.

“The benefits of trade to our country, as well as to countries that trade with us, are clear,” said Minister Fast. “Canadians get good jobs, deepened prosperity and consumer benefits. In turn, many of our international partners that represent developing economies share in the benefits from an ever-expanding middle-class and improved standard of living that is lifting more of the world’s population out of poverty. At the same time, we are able to share with those emerging from troubled histories our best practices for creating better social conditions, improved governance and greater respect for human rights and the rule of law, all of which go together with a rise from poverty to prosperity.”

In addition to strengthening Canada’s economic ties with the United States and the Americas—and along with ongoing trade negotiations with the European Union, the world’s largest single common market, foreign investor and trader—the Harper government’s plan to deepen Canada’s trade and investment ties in high-growth Asian markets includes:

  • Ongoing negotiations with China, Canada’s second-largest trading partner, toward a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement;
  • Continued negotiations toward a comprehensive economic trade agreement with India, a market with 1.2 billion consumers;
  • A trade and investment framework with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Canada’s seventh-largest trading partner; and
  • An ongoing joint study toward a possible economic partnership agreement with Japan.

“With one in five Canadian jobs dependent on trade, expanding Canada’s trade and investment ties around the world, particularly in high-growth Asian markets, will help protect and create new jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians,” said Minister Fast. “Whether it’s in China, Japan or Southeast Asia, Canada’s financial security depends on Canadian businesses continuing to expand and succeed within this regional engine of global growth.”

In the keynote address, Minister Fast also highlighted Canada’s competitive advantages in reaching rapidly expanding Asian markets, thanks to the Harper government’s strategic investments and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative, a world-class transportation network that provides an efficient, reliable and cost-effective connection between Asian and North American markets.

“These investments are already paying off, positioning Canada as the gateway of choice between Asia and North America,” added Minister Fast. “Canada’s ports here on the west coast are more than two days closer to Asian markets than are any other ports in North America. Easing the movement of goods, services and people is helping Canadian businesses expand and succeed abroad, which is creating jobs and prosperity here at home.”

Between 2006 and 2010, Canada’s market share of North American west coast container traffic increased by almost 30 percent. In one year alone—from 2009 to 2010—using Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure, Canadian exports to China increased by almost 19 percent, reaching $13.2 billion. And recently, Wood Resource Quarterly, a U.S. industry publication, forecasted that Canadian lumber exports to China are on track to reach a record US$1.2 billion in 2011.

British Columbia’s annual exports of wood products to China have also soared in value: sales more than tripled from about $179 million in 2008 to $669 million in 2010. A number of sawmills in B.C., including operations in Quesnel, Vavenby and Mackenzie, have reopened to help meet the growing demand from China for B.C. wood products—protecting and creating jobs for hard-working Canadians in the process.

Minister Fast concluded his speech by identifying anti-trade forces that continue to oppose Canada’s job-creating, pro-trade plan, and by stating that only a commitment to free and open trade will improve the prosperity and standard of living of both hard-working Canadians and residents of our country’s trading partners.

“Anti-trade forces represent a real and present danger—not only to our own prosperity as a nation in a global economy increasingly interconnected by global supply chains and trading blocs—but also to the future prosperity of the people in the world’s emerging economies. In order to protect and strengthen the financial security of hard-working Canadians, we must pursue policies based on practical, pro-trade realism over those based on outdated and long-discredited anti-trade ideology.”

For more information, please visit Building Trade Relations with Asia.

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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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