Harper Government Kicks Off Cross-Country Consultations on Next Phase of Canada’s Pro-Trade Plan

Minister Fast also receives advisory panel report on international education as part of discussions toward a refreshed Global Commerce Strategy

August 14, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today launched a series of consultations with industry and business leaders—including those from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—to help refresh the Global Commerce Strategy (GCS) in order to better align Canada’s trade and investment objectives in large, dynamic and fast-growing priority markets.

“Our government’s top priority is the economy,” said Minister Fast. “I am looking forward to the valuable contributions all stakeholders from across Canada will bring to these consultations, which will in turn help us develop the next phase of our ambitious pro-trade plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians.”

In 2007, the Harper government launched the Global Commerce Strategy to position Canada for long-term prosperity. It identified 13 priority markets around the world where opportunities for Canadian businesses and interests had the greatest potential for growth and success. This led to five years of Canadian leadership on the world stage in support of open trade, job creation, economic growth and prosperity for Canadians.

As part of Economic Action Plan 2012, the government announced a commitment to refresh the GCS following extensive consultations with Canada’s key trade and investment stakeholders, including Canada’s business community, with a particular emphasis on the very critical SME community. The first of the cross-country consultations, held in Halifax, will be followed by sessions in Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa over the coming weeks.

At the Halifax session, as an input into a GCS discussion on how to attract talent from around the world to Canada, Minister Fast received a report from an advisory panel of eminent Canadians, which was formed to make recommendations to the government on how to develop and implement an international education strategy. The report is entitled International Education, a Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity.

“Attracting the best and brightest to Canada, deepening the ties between Canadian and international educational institutions, and highlighting Canada’s research excellence abroad are key to Canada’s long-term prosperity,” said Minister Fast. “In addition to creating jobs and economic growth here at home, a comprehensive international education strategy will produce an even more skilled workforce in Canada and help us build the crucial people-to-people ties necessary to grow our trade and investment ties around the world, a key goal of a refreshed Global Commerce Strategy. I thank Dr. Amit Chakma and the advisory panel for their report, and our government looks forward to reviewing and considering the report’s recommendations.”

“During our deliberations, I was struck by Canada’s capacity to welcome international students and the social and economic benefits they bring to post-secondary institutions, to local communities and to Canada as a whole,” said Amit Chakma, panel chair, and president and vice chancellor of the University of Western Ontario. “We heard this message across Canada. Our quality education offerings can no longer remain a well-kept secret. Attracting the best international students will ensure that the world sees Canada as the place to be for top talent, global partnerships and business opportunities.”

“While Canada is recognized for having a highly skilled workforce, with one of the highest proportions of post-secondary graduates in the OECD, we are aiming to outperform this accomplishment and enhance our ability to attract more students and researchers to our institutions,” said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. “International students bring tangible benefits to our economy, contributing $8 billion to the Canadian economy and $445 million to government tax revenue each year and supporting more than 86,000 jobs.”

Under the current GCS, the Harper government has concluded new free trade agreements with nine countries; begun deepening trade and investment ties with key markets in the world, including Brazil, China, the countries of the European Union, India and Japan; concluded or brought into force new foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with 11 countries; and opened new trade offices in the fast-growing priority markets of Brazil, China and India.

The next phase of the GCS is to be announced in 2013.

To learn more about the renewal of the GCS, consult Cross-Country Global Commerce Strategy Consultations.

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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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