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Canada, United States and Mexico Focus on Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity

Helping small and medium-sized enterprises expand and succeed is key to strengthening North America’s competitiveness and securing long-term prosperity, says Minister Fast

April 3, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today met with his NAFTA counterparts Ambassador Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, and Bruno Ferrari, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, in Washington, D.C., to affirm Canada’s commitment to enhancing North America’s competitiveness by helping the critical small and medium-sized business sector continue to expand and succeed. Today’s meeting of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission follows the North American Leaders Summit, where the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico agreed that jobs and growth remain top priorities.

“Canada sees NAFTA as the world’s greatest free trade success story,” said Minister Fast. “NAFTA has paved the way for the creation of good jobs, strong, sustainable economic growth, and prosperity throughout North America. This historic agreement is clearly one of North America’s greatest competitive advantages.”

In the joint statement released following their meeting, the trade ministers agreed to build on NAFTA’s record of success by continuing to cooperate in ways that will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by reducing transaction costs and other unnecessary barriers to trade. The trade ministers also agreed that increased regulatory cooperation would help SMEs in all three countries.

The backbone of Canada’s economy, small businesses represent some 99 percent of all businesses in the country, and small-business owners employ almost two thirds of the private sector workforce in Canada. Minister Fast heralded recent announcements that will help the SME sector create jobs and boost economic growth:

  • the recent announcement of new steel-import measures that will reduce red tape and costs at the Canada-U.S. border;
  • the upcoming ratification of the recently signed agreement to extend the Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement;
  • the signing of a telecommunications cooperation agreement last November with Mexico that allows Canadian products to reach the Mexican market faster and at less expense; and
  • continued cooperation on protecting intellectual property rights, particularly in the context of piracy and counterfeiting, which culminated in Canada and the United States’ recent signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

“We are working to simplify the trading rules to make it even easier for small and medium-sized businesses to expand and succeed,” added Minister Fast. “We are listening to the critical SME sector and taking steps to make North America the most competitive region in the world.”

In 2011, total trilateral merchandise trade among NAFTA countries surpassed US$1 trillion, which is more than triple their trade in 1993 of US$288 billion.

Since NAFTA came into effect 18 years ago, Canada’s trade with the United States has more than doubled, and trade with Mexico has increased more than sixfold. Each day, the NAFTA countries conduct nearly US$2.8 billion in trilateral trade.

Canada will host next year’s NAFTA Free Trade Commission 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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