International Trade Minister Calls for Greater Trade Liberalization at APEC Trade Ministers Meeting

Protectionism is toxic to global recovery efforts, says Minister Fast

June 5, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today wrapped up his participation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade in Kazan, Russia, by highlighting Canada’s commitment to free and open trade and urging member economies to guard against creeping protectionism.

“Our government understands the importance of trade to our economy,” said Minister Fast. “It represents one out of every five jobs in Canada and accounts for over 60 percent of our country’s annual income. That is why we have embarked on the most ambitious pro-trade plan in the history of our country. APEC has proven itself to be an important, distinct forum for advancing free-market initiatives, but it must aim for greater trade liberalization.”

Minister Fast advocated strongly for APEC members to follow Canada’s lead toward freer trade by reducing tariffs on environmental goods. He urged APEC leaders to meet the ambitious target set in Honolulu in 2011 of concluding negotiations in 2012, and called on all APEC members not to falter in their shared commitments.

“This is the time to double our efforts and provide meaningful leadership for the world,” said Minister Fast.

At the meeting, the trade ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the APEC agenda, including regional economic integration, regulatory coherence, supply-chain development and innovation policy—areas where Canada has been playing a global leadership role.

“APEC brings together many of the leaders from one of the most dynamic regions in the world,” said Minister Fast. “I was pleased to be able to share the Canadian economic success story—a product of prudent pro-trade and economic growth measures. I also highlighted Canada’s commitment to the multilateral trading system and to moving beyond the Doha Round impasse.”

The two-day annual trade meeting brings together officials from the 21 member economies bordering the Pacific Ocean, and sets the stage for the APEC leaders’ summit. This year’s summit will be held in September in Vladivostok, Russia.

On the margins of the meeting, Minister Fast held a number of bilateral meetings with his counterparts to discuss concrete ways to deepen Canada’s trade and investment ties in the Asia-Pacific region, including by joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations as soon as possible. All nine current TPP members are also members of APEC.

In 2011, APEC economies accounted for 56 percent of world GDP, 47 percent of global merchandise trade and 40 percent of the world’s population. Total two-way merchandise trade between Canada and the APEC economies grew from $374.6 billion in 1994 to $721.5 billion in 2011, an average annual growth rate of 3.9 percent.

Tomorrow, Minister Fast will continue his visit in Russia by leading a trade mission to Moscow comprising Canadian aerospace, infrastructure and mining companies.

For more information on Minister Fast’s trade mission to Russia, consult Minister Fast Visits Russia.

For more information on the APEC trade meeting, including the ministerial statement, consult APEC 2012.

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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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