Harper Government Opening New Markets in Middle East and North Africa

Increasing Canadian exports leads to jobs, growth and prosperity at home, Minister Fast says on trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Jordan

October 7, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, continues to advance the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history as he leads a trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Yesterday in Riyadh, Minister Fast and Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, announced the relaunch of the Canada-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission (JEC) to help expand and diversify trade between the two countries.

“Opening new markets and increasing Canadian exports around the world creates jobs and prosperity for Canadian workers and families,” said Minister Fast. “Reinvigorating the Joint Economic Commission will help us take our bilateral relationship to the next level and help Canadian businesses succeed in the Middle East and the North African market.”

Representatives of more than 20 Canadian businesses and organizations have joined Minister Fast on the trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The trade mission is focused on the education, health care and infrastructure sectors, areas where Canadian expertise and know-how is significant.

More than 16,000 Saudi Arabians are now studying in Canada, making Saudi Arabia Canada’s fourth-largest source of international students, and some 4,000 Saudi doctors have received medical training in Canada. Saudi Arabia is also currently investing hundreds of billions of dollars in education and health-care facilities, as well as in a broad range of transport, water, power, urban development and other infrastructure projects.

Saudi Arabia is Canada’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, with two-way merchandise trade reaching $3.6 billion in 2011. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia are also growing rapidly, having almost equalled by July 2012 the $860 million in total exports for 2011.

Canada has offered to host the first meeting of a revitalized JEC in 2013.

Minister Fast is pictured (front row, centre) with the trade mission participants.

Minister Fast is pictured (front row, centre) with the trade mission participants.

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A backgrounder follows, outlining the Harper government’s ongoing trade and related initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa.

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
rudy.husny@international.gc.ca

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade

Backgrounder - Canada’s Recent Trade and Investment Initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa

In the last three years, the Government of Canada has pursued several trade initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa: