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Harper Government Continues Cross-Country Consultation on Refreshed Pro-Trade Plan for Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity

International Trade Minister meets with Global Commerce Strategy Advisory Panel to take stock of cross-country consultations on refreshed plan to open new markets for Canadian exporters

October 2, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today met with his Global Commerce Strategy (GCS) Advisory Panel to discuss the next phase of the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history and ways to ensure the GCS continues to benefit Canadian workers, businesses and families.

“Deepening Canada’s trade and investment ties with the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing markets in the world is a key part of our government’s pro-trade plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Fast. “Opening new markets and helping increase Canadian exports around the world generates benefits for Canadian workers, businesses and families. A refreshed Global Commerce Strategy will build on Canada’s leadership to date on the world stage in support of free and open trade and position our country for long-term success.”

As part of Economic Action Plan 2012, the Harper government announced a commitment to refresh the GCS following extensive consultations with the business community, including the critically important small and medium-sized business sector and other key trade and investment stakeholders. An updated GCS will align Canada’s trade and investment objectives in specific high-growth and strategic priority markets, with an eye to ensuring that Canada is branded to its greatest advantage in those markets.

In May 2012, the government established a 10-member advisory panel to help guide and act as a sounding board for a refreshed GCS. To date, the government has held cross-country consultations in Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa involving some 400 business and industry stakeholders. Topics of discussion have included ways Canadian business can access capital, leading technologies and new markets, and ways Canada can continue to attract international investment and top talent to further enhance its competitive advantages.

“As the backbone of the Canadian economy, small and medium-sized businesses benefit from the government’s commitment to opening new markets around the world,” said Catherine Swift, Chair of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “A refreshed Global Commerce Strategy combined with the right business fundamentals in place at home—such as reduced red tape and low taxes—will ensure small and medium-sized enterprises continue to expand and succeed abroad, which creates jobs and prosperity across Canada.”

A recent KPMG LLP study notes that Canada is the second most tax-competitive country among 14 major global economies, and, in 2012, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada’s banking system the soundest in the world for the fifth straight year. Since 2009, the government has eliminated more than 1,800 tariffs—including all tariffs on imported machinery, equipment and manufacturing inputs, which has made Canada the first tariff-free manufacturing zone in the G-20. These actions have provided more than $435 million in annual tariff relief to Canadian businesses.

“Thanks to our government’s free trade leadership, Canadian workers and businesses now have preferred access and a real competitive edge in more markets around the world than at any other time in our history,” said Minister Fast. “Such made-in-Canada measures have helped—and will continue to help—create jobs for Canadian workers, increase investment and innovation, and improve productivity. The next phase of the GCS will ensure Canada continues to stand tall on the world stage, maintains its position as an international economic leader, maximizes economic opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses, and brands Canada to its greatest advantage within priority markets.”

Since 2006, the Harper government has concluded new free trade agreements with nine countries and concluded or brought into force new foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with 12 countries. It has also continued to deepen ties with large and high-growth markets, including Brazil, the European Union, India, Japan and others throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

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.

Minister Fast with his Global Commerce Strategy (GCS) Advisory Panel.

Seated from left: Kathleen Sullivan, Executive Director of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance; Serge Godin, founder of CGI Group Inc.; Brian Ferguson, President and CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc.; Catherine Swift, Chair of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business; Minister Fast; Indira Samarasekera, President of the University of Alberta; and Jayson Myers, President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.
Standing from left: the Honourable John Manley, President and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and Murad Al-Katib, President and CEO of Alliance Grain Traders Inc., and Chair of Minister Fast's SME Advisory Board.
Absent are the Honourable Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and Paul Reynolds, President and CEO of Canaccord Financial Inc. 

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A backgrounder on the GCS advisory panel and its members follows.

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
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade

Backgrounder - Global Commerce Strategy Advisory Panel


The advisory panel will act as a sounding board for the minister of international trade on the development of the next phase of the Global Commerce Strategy (GCS). The panel will provide advice with a view to ensuring that the next phase of the GCS maximizes economic opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses. It will focus on key activities through which the government can help Canadian businesses be more successful globally, with an eye to ensuring that Canada is branded to its greatest advantage within priority markets.


Murad Al-Katib has been a member of the Minister of International Trade’s Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Advisory Board since December 2006 and the chair since 2009. He is also president and CEO of Alliance Grain Traders Inc. Alliance Grain Traders (AGT) is the largest lentil and pea splitting company in the world, with more than 1.75 million tonnes of capacity located in 29 facilities in five continents, including production facilities in Canada, the United States, Australia, Turkey, China and South Africa. AGT companies have more than 60 years of global marketing experience.

Paul Reynolds was named president of Canaccord Financial Inc. in 2006 and CEO in 2007. He has also been global head of Canaccord Genuity since April 2005. He is very active in investment banking operations and leads Canaccord from its Toronto office. Mr. Reynolds has over 25 years of experience in the securities industry; he began as a floor trader. He joined Canaccord Financial in 1985, working as an investment advisor in Vancouver. He specialized in financing emerging and developing companies in the resource, technology and biotechnology sectors. Between 1999 and 2008, he managed Canaccord’s London office as president and chief operating officer of European operations.

Kathleen Sullivan is executive director of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA). As executive director of CAFTA, the organization representing the 80 percent of Canada’s agri-food sector that relies on international trade, Ms. Sullivan is responsible for promoting negotiations in the World Trade Organization and ensuring Canada has an ambitious free trade agenda.

The Honourable Perrin Beatty is president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Before joining the Chamber in 2007, Mr. Beatty was president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. He was president and CEO of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from 1995 to 1999. In 1972, he was elected to the House of Commons. He served as minister of state (Treasury Board), minister of national revenue, solicitor general, minister of national defence, minister of health and welfare, minister of communications and secretary of state for external affairs. Mr. Beatty is chancellor of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

The Honourable John Manley is president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, representing the CEOs and entrepreneurs of 150 leading Canadian corporations. Mr. Manley is a former deputy prime minister of Canada and minister in the portfolios of industry, foreign affairs and finance. From 2004 to 2009, he served as counsel to the law firm McCarthy Tétrault LLP.

Catherine Swift is chair of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). She has been with CFIB since 1987. Among her various responsibilities, she coordinates policy issues at both federal and provincial levels of government and represents CFIB with politicians, government, business and other groups.

Jayson Myers is president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). Mr. Myers is a well-known economic commentator, and is widely published in the fields of Canadian and international economics, technological and industrial change. As CME’s chief economist, he led the association’s Manufacturing 20/20 initiative, the largest cross-country consultation ever convened by Canada’s business community on the future of manufacturing in Canada.

Brian Ferguson is president and CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc., an integrated oil company headquartered in Calgary. Mr. Ferguson joined a predecessor company in 1984 and became a member of the management team in 1994. His business experience spans finance, business development, strategic planning, corporate reserve evaluations, investor relations and communications.

Serge Godin founded CGI in 1976. Under his leadership, CGI Group Inc. has grown to be among the largest independent information technology and business process services firms in the world. As founder and executive chairman of the board, Mr. Godin, the controlling shareholder, oversees the company worldwide, providing leadership in the areas of strategic planning, new development and business expansion.

Indira Samarasekera is the president of the University of Alberta. Building strong international partnerships is a signature feature of her leadership. Recent institutional-level agreements—notably with the Helmholtz Association of German research centres, the Li Ka-shing Foundation, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, IIT Delhi and IIT Roorkee—illustrate the University of Alberta’s commitment to working with the international community to find solutions to shared challenges.