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Canada Demonstrates Leadership on the World Stage at WTO

Procurement deal, Russia’s accession and strong anti-protectionist pledge top accomplishments at eighth WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva

(No. 381 - December 17, 2011 - 11:45 a.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today wrapped up his participation at the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s eighth ministerial meeting, saying the accomplishments in Geneva show the effectiveness of the rules-based multilateral trading system.

“Canada’s message is clear. We cannot allow obstacles to weaken the multilateral trading system or to overshadow the important day-to-day work of the WTO, such as governance, dispute settlement and monitoring,” said Minister Fast. “Despite my frustration over the lack of progress on the Doha Development Agenda, the WTO remains fundamentally important to our government’s pro-trade plan to create jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians.”

“Canadian farmers have much to gain from an effective, rules-based world trading system as international trade is a key instrument of their economic growth,” said the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Our government’s ambitious and balanced trade agenda is creating new trade opportunities for our agricultural exporters while standing up for farmers from all sectors.”

At the three-day meeting, Minister Fast helped build support for a strongly worded pledge against protectionism, which echoed Canada’s firm stand against trade-restrictive measures led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the recent G-20 and APEC meetings. The pledge committed 23 supporters, including Australia, Chile, Mexico, the European Union, Japan and the United States, to refrain from raising new barriers to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing WTO-inconsistent measures, including those that stimulate exports.

“Canada is recognized as a free-trade leader. Our stand against protectionism is based on principle, because we know that protectionism kills innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity, and ultimately the jobs that put food on Canadian tables,” said Minister Fast. “In these tough economic times, we must stand firmly against measures that restrict trade, and roll back those already in place.”

Minister Fast also welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations on an expanded Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) covering 42 WTO members, including Canada. Once in force, the revised GPA will give Canadian businesses greater access to the government procurement markets of member economies participating in the agreement. According to the WTO Secretariat, these public contracts are worth an estimated $80 to $100 billion, and more if others accede to the agreement as anticipated.

Minister Fast called Russia’s accession another milestone in the country’s remarkable history and an important development for the WTO. “As one of the world’s largest economies, Russia must be part of our efforts to liberalize global trade and fight protectionism here at the WTO,” he said.

On the margins of formal WTO talks, Minister Fast also met separately to discuss issues of bilateral importance with his counterparts from more than 20 member economies. These included Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam, as well as Brazil, CARICOM, China, the European Union, India and Japan.

In 2010, WTO members accounted for more than 6.2 billion people, over 95 percent of the world’s GDP, and over 97 percent of Canada’s total merchandise trade.

The Minister’s participation at the WTO followed his successful pro-trade visit to Germany and France, where he discussed with business leaders and lawmakers Canada’s and the European Union’s commitment to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement currently under negotiation. He also highlighted Canadian innovation and expertise, particularly in expanding sectors such as computer imaging, technology, infrastructure development and transportation.

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

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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

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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