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International Trade Minister Ed Fast Advances Harper Government’s Job-Creating, Pro-Trade Plan in 2011

Year concludes with a productive third round of Canada-India free trade talks in Delhi and the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization

(No. 394 - December 27, 2011 - 9:30 a.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today marked the progress made in 2011 to bring more jobs and prosperity to hard-working Canadians by deepening Canada’s trading relationships around the world.

The top accomplishments of 2011 highlighted by the Minister included:

  • the entry into force of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement on August 15;
  • the conclusion of negotiations toward a Canada-Honduras free trade agreement;
  • the tabling of legislation to enact free trade agreements with Jordan and Panama;
  • continued progress toward a Canada-European Union trade agreement and a Canada-India trade agreement;
  • Canada’s signing of the historic Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which will combat trade in counterfeit and pirated goods while helping to ensure innovation- and knowledge-based prosperity;
  • adoption of the Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to increase Canada’s trade and investment ties in the region;
  • the launch of exploratory trade talks with Mercosur, South America’s largest common market;
  • continued Canada’s leadership on the world stage in support of free and open trade;
  • minister-led trade missions to Brazil, China and India—three of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world;
  • the announcement in November of Canada’s intention to enter into formal consultations to join negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and
  • the naming of an advisory panel of eminent Canadians to make recommendations that will help guide Canada’s International Education Strategy.

“Jobs and economic growth to benefit Canadian businesses, workers and their families continues to be our government’s top priority,” said Minister Fast. “With one in five Canadian jobs linked to trade, deepening Canada’s trading relationships in priority markets around the world is key to protecting and strengthening the financial security of hard-working Canadians.”

This highlighting of the progress made in 2011 on the government’s pro-trade plan for jobs and growth follows the Minister’s visit to Europe, where he met with German and French business leaders and lawmakers to promote the two-way benefits of a Canada-EU trade agreement under negotiation, and attended the eighth ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization, where Canada helped to build support for an anti-protectionist pledge adopted by 23 WTO members, and underscored Canada’s continued commitment to an effective, rules-based multilateral trading system.

“Canada remains a strong and active supporter of the multilateral trading system. We are working to ensure that the credibility and effectiveness of the WTO system is safeguarded,” said Minister Fast. “In these uncertain economic times, protectionism is poisonous to our efforts to create jobs and economic growth. Simply put, there is no better job creator than free and open trade.”

On free trade negotiations currently under way in priority markets around the world, Minister Fast expressed optimism with the progress being made toward a Canada-India trade agreement. The third round of negotiations was held December 13-16, 2011, in Delhi.

“As agreed with my counterpart, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, during my recent trade mission to India, our countries are committed to an ambitious schedule for negotiations,” said Minister Fast. “Discussions are advancing, and Canada is aiming to conclude negotiations in 2013, and unlocking the benefits of free trade for Canadian businesses, workers and families.”

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, please consult Minister Fast Visits Europe and Attends WTO Conference.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Adam Taylor
Director of Communications
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’s Trade Accomplishments in 2011

The Government of Canada’s job-creating, pro-trade plan is outlined in its Global Commerce Strategy. The Strategy sets out the government’s trade, investment and innovation priorities to open new markets and create opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers.

In 2011, Canada has advanced its pro-trade plan on a number of fronts:

Advancing freer trade

  • India—The third round of negotiations toward a comprehensive economic partnership agreement withIndia was held December 13-16, 2011, in Delhi. Canada is seeking to complete negotiations with India in 2013.
  • Jordan and Panama—In November, legislation to implement free trade agreements with Jordan and Panama was introduced in Parliament.
  • European Union—The ninth round of negotiations on the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement took place in October in Ottawa. The goal is to conclude an ambitious agreement with the EU in 2012.
  • Colombia—Canada and Colombia welcomed the entry into force of their Free Trade Agreement on August 15, 2011.
  • Honduras—Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in August the conclusion of negotiations toward a Canada-Honduras free trade agreement.
  • Costa Rica—Prime Minister Harper announced in August the launch of negotiations to modernize the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement.
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership—Prime Minister Harper announced in November Canada’s intention to enter into formal consultations to join negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is a regional trade and investment agreement being negotiated among nine countries: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States. Japan and Mexico are also interested in joining.
  • Mercosur—During a visit to Paraguay, Minister Fast announced the launch of exploratory trade discussions between Canada and the members of Mercosur—Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay—South America’s largest common market.
  • Ukraine—Canada has concluded two rounds of free trade negotiations with Ukraine.
  • CARICOM—Canada and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are working to schedule a fourth round of trade negotiations early in 2012.
  • Japan—Canada and Japan are engaged in a joint study of options for pursuing free trade.
  • Morocco—Prime Minister Harper announced the launch of trade negotiations with Morocco in January.

Making Canada more competitive

  • United States—Prime Minister Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced joint action plans on perimeter security and economic competitiveness and on regulatory cooperation in December.
  • France—During his trade visit there in December, Minister Fast endorsed the Canada-France Joint Action Plan, which was a pledge to review and identify new areas of collaboration in key economic and commercial areas.
  • United States—In November, the Government of Canada welcomed the clear victory for Canada’s livestock industry. The World Trade Organization ruled that the U.S.’s Country-of-Origin Labelling measures were inconsistent with its trade obligations.
  • In October, while in Tokyo, Minister Fast signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an international agreement aimed at combatting the spread of trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. This agreement demonstrates Canada’s commitment to protecting innovation- and knowledge-based prosperity, which is key to Canada’s future economic success.
  • ASEAN—In October, Canada adopted a joint declaration on trade and investment with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is an important step in strengthening our commercial relationship with this important group of fast-growing economies. Minister Fast signed the declaration while inIndonesia.
  • Kuwait—Canada signed a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with Kuwait in September.
  • Vietnam—In August, Vietnam opened its doors to Canadian live breeding cattle, sheep and goats.
  • Costa Rica—Costa Rica reopened its market to Canadian beef and beef products in February.
  • India—In January, India opened its market to Canadian spruce exports. The announcement followed India’s certification of Canada’s spruce lumber for import.

Promoting Canadian business abroad

  • APEC—In November, Minister Fast, with the participation of three innovative Canadian companies from the clean-technology sector, showcased leading Canadian technology at the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Meeting’s innovation fair and exhibition for small and medium-sized enterprises. On the margins of this meeting, Minister Fast held discussions with his counterparts from nine APEC member economies, including Australia, China and the United States, and signed a telecommunications mutual recognition agreement with Mexico.
  • India—In November, Minister Fast advocated for closer economic ties between Canada and India, and promoted Canadian expertise in a focused set of key sectors during a trade mission to India.
  • United States—In October, Minister Fast went to Washington, D.C., to reinforce the strong Canada-U.S. relationship, and to highlight how free and open trade is the best way to create jobs and economic growth in both countries. In January, his predecessor also visited Washington.
  • China—Minister Fast went to China in October to meet with Chinese government ministers and assist Canadian businesses seeking out new economic opportunities in China.
  • Latin America—In August, Minister Fast accompanied Prime Minister Harper on a four-country visit to Central and South America (Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras) to expand and enhance market access to create jobs, economic growth and opportunities for Canadians.
  • Brazil—In August, Prime Minister Harper and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced the creation of the Canada-Brazil CEO Forum.
  • In August, Minister Fast announced that 38 Canadian industry associations would receive $2.7 million under the Government of Canada’s Global Opportunities for Associations program to undertake new or expanded activities to help their members compete globally.
  • Brazil—In June, Minister Fast showcased Canadian expertise in construction, engineering, infrastructure, high technology and other sectors while leading a trade mission to Brazil with representatives of 19 Canadian companies (see Minister Fast Visits Paraguay and Brazil).

Attracting the brightest to Canada      

  • In October, Minister Fast named an advisory panel to provide guidance and direction on the government’s international education strategy. In Budget 2011, the government announced $10 million over two years for the development and implementation of an international education strategy to reinforce Canada as a country of choice to study and conduct world-class research. The panel is expected to report in 2012.

Bringing foreign investment to Canada

  • Switzerland—In January, the then-Minister of International Trade attended the World Economic Forum in Davos to promote Canada’s economic advantages to investors.
  • United States—In February, the then-Minister of International Trade attended the World Business Forum in New York City to promote Canada to investors.
  • The Government of Canada also organized investor conferences in Los Angeles, Dallas and Minneapolis.
  • In October, Minister Fast announced over $3 million in funding to 99 organizations across Canada to help attract, retain and expand foreign direct investment in local communities under the Invest Canada–Community Initiatives program.

Supporting Canadian innovation

  • Research and Development—In December, the government launched an initiative to select a Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence as part of its wider India engagement strategy. With funding of $15 million over five years, the initiative will forge closer ties with India across key sectors and boost collaboration in research and development.
  • S&T partnerships—In November, Prime Minister Harper renewed $5 million in funding for the Canada-China Framework Agreement for Cooperation on Science, Technology and Innovation. He also announced renewed funding of $5 million for the Canada-Brazil Framework Agreement for Cooperation on Science, Technology and Innovation. In July, Minister Fast announced $5 million in funding to the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation.
  • Brazil—In August, Prime Minister Harper announced the development of a Canada-Brazil science and technology action plan focused on innovation.
  • Russia—In June, Minister Fast released the Joint Canadian-Russian Ministerial Statement on Co-operation in the Area of Science, Technology and Innovation that commits the two governments to encouraging and facilitating collaborative opportunities in emerging fields.