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International Trade Minister Ed Fast Makes Pro-Trade Visit to Germany and France to Promote Canada-European Union Trade Agreement

Minister will also highlight Canada as an investment destination of choice

(No. 366 - December 9, 2011 - 11:45 a.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today met with Canadian and German business leaders in Berlin to discuss the commitment by Canada and the European Union to an ambitious trade agreement. Minister Fast is in Germany as part of a pro-trade visit to Europe to meet with EU officials and business leaders to promote the two-way benefits of a Canada-EU trade agreement that will create more jobs and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. He will also assist Canadian companies seeking new economic opportunities in Europe and highlight Canada’s numerous advantages, which make it a leading investment destination of choice.

The Minister is en route to Geneva to attend the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization from December 15 to 17.

“In these globally challenging economic times, broadening and deepening Canada’s trading relationships in priority markets around the world is a matter of fundamental importance for the financial security of hard-working Canadians and their families,” said Minister Fast. “I am here in Europe to promote what Canada has to offer our European partners and to help Canadian businesses build bridges to the European marketplace. Canadians know that when our businesses succeed abroad, they create jobs and economic growth at home.”

Following the meeting with business leaders, Minister Fast met with Bernhard Heitzer, Germany’s State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, to highlight Canadian expertise and innovation, particularly Canadian capabilities in life sciences and renewable and environmental technologies. 

“With our low taxes and business costs, our highly skilled workforce and rock-solid banking system, it is no wonder that Forbes magazine recently ranked Canada as the best place to do business in the world,” said Minister Fast. “Canadian businesses have developed products and services that are in demand worldwide. I am also showcasing Canada as an investment destination of choice to European business leaders and lawmakers.”

Minister Fast will also travel to Düsseldorf and to Paris, meeting with government officials and business leaders to promote Canada as an investment destination and meeting with representatives of Canadian companies seeking new economic opportunities in Europe in the areas of aerospace and defence, and information and communication technologies.

“Our government continues to focus on jobs and economic recovery, and the potential benefits of a Canada-EU trade are enormous,” said Minister Fast. “With trade accounting for over 60 percent of Canada’s annual GDP and with one in five Canadian jobs linked to trade, a Canada-EU trade agreement would create almost 80,000 new jobs and provide the equivalent of a $1,000-boost to the annual income of the average Canadian family.”

A Canada-EU trade agreement will give Canada preferential access to the wealthiest single market in the world. With 27 member states and a population of over 500 million, the European Union is Canada’s second-largest partner in trade and investment and a key partner in innovation.

In less than six years, Canada has concluded new free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Peru, the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and, most recently, with Honduras.

For more information on the Minister’s visit to Europe, please consult Minister Fast Visits Europe and Attends WTO Conference.

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A backgrounder follows.

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

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade

Backgrounder - Canada and the European Union: Toward a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

Canada and the European Union are currently negotiating a historic economic partnership that will benefit Canadians and Europeans alike. This effort began at the Canada-EU Summit in Prague on May 6, 2009, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso and then-European Union president Mirek Topolánek announced the launch of negotiations toward a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

The Government of Canada, in consultation with Canadian stakeholders and with provincial and territorial governments, developed an ambitious objective for the negotiations. Canada and the EU then agreed to negotiate in a wide range of areas, including trade in goods, (including agriculture, fish and industrial products), non-tariff barriers (including regulatory standards), investment, government procurement, intellectual property and many others.

Canada and the EU have held nine successful rounds of negotiations since the start of talks in October 2009. To date, significant progress has been achieved across the board, including in the core market access areas of goods, services, investment and government procurement.

The EU is the world’s largest importer and exporter of goods and services, and economic relations between the EU and Canada are long-standing. As a single market, the EU is Canada’s second-largest partner in trade and investment after the United States. Two-way merchandise trade reached $82.5 billion in 2010, up from $75 billion in 2009.

The investment relationship between the two partners is also strong. In 2009, Canada was the EU’s fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment. At the end of 2010, the stock of known Canadian direct investment in the European Union totalled more than $145 billion.

In October 2008, the EU and Canada released a joint study, Assessing the Costs and Benefits of a Closer EU-Canada Economic Partnership, which shows that a stronger economic partnership could boost Canadian gross domestic product by $12 billion annually and two-way trade with the European Union by more than 20 percent.

Canada’s provinces and territories are closely involved in these negotiations, sending representatives to sessions in areas that fall in whole or in part under their jurisdictions. Moreover, the Government of Canada consults closely with the provinces and territories on all issues during the negotiations.

The private sectors of both the EU and Canada have shown strong support for an ambitious and comprehensive economic agreement, including in ongoing consultations undertaken by both parties. The consensus within the private sector is that, in addition to the significant benefits to be achieved, a closer economic partnership would send a powerful pro-growth signal to investors and businesses within the EU and Canada, as well as internationally.

An agreement would be expected to benefit many sectors of the Canadian economy, including aerospace, chemicals, plastics, aluminum, wood products, fish and seafood, automotive vehicles and parts, agricultural products, transportation, financial services, renewable energy, information and communication technologies, engineering, and computer services.