Harper Government Committed to Helping Small Businesses Expand and Succeed

Canada’s pro-trade leadership and refreshed Global Commerce Strategy will help generate prosperity for Canadians in every region of the country, Minister Fast says

September 25, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today met with his Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Advisory Board. They discussed Canada’s ambitious pro-trade plan and the crucial role that SMEs play in generating jobs, economic growth and prosperity across Canada.

“Canadian businesses, and SMEs in particular, are the backbone of our economy,” said Minister Fast. “When they succeed abroad, they create jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians in communities across the country. With exports related to one in five jobs and trade being equivalent in size to over 60 percent of our annual GDP, we know it is essential to get the fundamentals right, reduce red tape and facilitate trade flows. That is why our ambitious pro-trade plan is focused on forging new trade-and-investment ties in key markets where SMEs can expand, flourish and become more competitive.”

During the meeting, Minister Fast and his Board exchanged views on a refreshed Global Commerce Strategy (GCS) as part of a national consultation process, the current challenges facing the Canadian business community, and opportunities that exist to help SMEs succeed, access new markets and increase their exports.

“The first GCS led to five years of Canadian leadership on the world stage in support of open trade, job creation, economic growth and prosperity for Canadians,” added Minister Fast. “But we cannot rest on our laurels. We are committed to addressing the needs of Canadian business and to pursuing new dynamic, high-growth markets that will keep our economy strong and vibrant in the years ahead.”

Murad Al-Katib, Chair of the SME Advisory Board and President and CEO of Alliance Grain Traders Inc., stressed the importance of having the Government of Canada deliver an ambitious pro-trade plan for Canadian companies.

“We applaud the government’s commitment to helping SMEs grow and expand their business interests around the world,” said Mr. Al-Katib. “By negotiating new free trade agreements, reducing tariffs and easing trade barriers, the government is creating the business environment and services that SMEs need to succeed in today’s competitive global economy. We hear time and time again from SMEs how the hands-on service, market intelligence and business links that the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service provides is an essential part of their success.”

Last year the SME Advisory Board released a report showing that an ambitious Canada-European Union (EU) trade agreement would generate significant benefits for Canada’s small businesses, creating jobs, growth and prosperity in every region of the country.

Since 2006, Canada has concluded new free trade agreements with nine countries and begun deepening trade and investment ties with the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing markets in the world, including the EU, India and Japan. Deeper trade with the EU and India alone could provide Canadian businesses with improved access to markets with a combined GDP of nearly $20 trillion and more than 1.7 billion people, creating thousands of job opportunities in Canada.

Details of the next phase of the GCS will be announced in 2013.

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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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