Canada-European Union Trade Agreement Key Element of Government’s Pro-trade Plan for Jobs and Growth

International Trade Minister Ed Fast consults business leaders on upcoming budget; says Harper government’s commitment to diversifying markets by deepening Canada’s trade relationships will create jobs and prosperity for Canadian workers, businesses and families

February 3, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today met with business leaders from a variety of sectors of the Canadian economy for a pre-budget consultation and to discuss the benefits to businesses and workers of a Canada-EU trade agreement.

The event in Toronto was hosted by the Canada Europe Roundtable for Business (CERT) and included business leaders from Canada’s pharmaceutical, engineering, forestry, energy, finance, infrastructure and automotive sectors, as well as representatives of Canada’s small-business community.

“Pro-trade groups, such as yours, recognize the many benefits to workers and businesses that a Canada-EU trade agreement will bring, and I am pleased to say that we are on track to conclude negotiations in 2012,” said Minister Fast. “Toward this end, productive meetings between Canadian and EU negotiators continue, including during this past week in Ottawa.”

The potential benefits of a comprehensive economic and trade agreement are significant. A deal with the European Union could boost bilateral trade by 20 percent. It could also provide a $12-billion annual boost to Canada’s economy, which is equivalent to a $1,000 increase to the average Canadian family’s income or almost 80,000 new jobs. It would also mean more opportunities for workers in many sectors of the economy, including aerospace, automotive, chemicals, plastics, aluminum, wood products, and fish and seafood.

“The government's economic leadership shown in their ambitious pro-trade plan will keep Canada’s economy strong,” said Jason Langrish, Executive Director of CERT. “The Canada-EU free trade agreement will provide a significant boost to Canada’s economy every year after it is implemented—which is good for businesses and workers and good for Canada.”

Minister Fast also took the opportunity to consult the business leaders on Economic Action Plan 2012.

“Our broad and ambitious pro-trade, low-tax plan for jobs and growth has worked and served Canadians well,” said Minister Fast. “Almost 610,000 more Canadians are working today than when the recession ended, resulting in the strongest rate of employment growth, by far, among G-7 countries. Prime Minister Harper’s actions to lower taxes, pay down debt, reduce red tape and promote free trade and innovation are creating jobs and growth for Canadians.”

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

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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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