Minister Fast Wraps up Successful Trade Mission to Middle East

More than 20 Canadian businesses and organizations accompany Trade Minister to Saudi Arabia and Jordan

October 10, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, has concluded a five-day trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Jordan, helping to advance Canadian interests in the Middle East. Minister Fast was accompanied by representatives of more than 20 Canadian businesses and organizations.

“Our government’s number one priority is the economy,” said Minister Fast. “Opening new markets to increase Canadian exports and helping Canadian businesses expand and succeed abroad helps create jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians at home.”

Since being named international trade minister, Minister Fast has led several strategically focused, sector-specific trade missions, including missions to Brazil and Russia, and plans to announce more in the near future as part of the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history.

“This important trade mission allowed us to have a good overview of and update on the Saudi Arabian market and its current needs and opportunities,” said Fabiano Piraino-Maciel, Marketing Director of the Vancouver English Centre. “We were also able to network with a good number of key people in the business and governmental fields. We expect to generate good partnerships and business alliances from those contacts. I, as well as some of my fellow participants, think that we should have missions like this more often.”

“We came to the region knowing the potential but unclear on the process of doing business there,” said James Clark, President of Vancouver’s Canadian College. “By joining the Canada Trade Mission, we have been able to be part of a collaborative effort involving the Minister, the embassy staff and our innovative product. The doors were opened; we were able to showcase our Canadian product within a framework of free trade. In Saudi Arabia, we signed four memorandums of understanding, with respected public and private universities and colleges, that have the potential to produce very lucrative outcomes. In Jordan, we also signed a memorandum of understanding with a respected public university, which should have the same outcome. This mission has been highly successful for Canadian College, and Canada will reap the rewards in the years ahead.”

Saudi Arabia is Canada’s largest trading partner in the region and a priority market for Canada under its Global Commerce Strategy. In 2011, bilateral merchandise trade between the two countries reached nearly $3.6 billion.

During his visit, Minister Fast welcomed the announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia that it will reduce processing times for visas for Canadians to 10 working days from 22 working days.

“Easing the mobility of our business people is a significant step forward that will help us continue to grow the trade and investment ties between our two countries,” said Minister Fast.

During the trade mission, Minister Fast welcomed a number of Canadian successes, including the announcement by Manitoba Hydro and the Saudi Electricity Company of a contract worth $5.3 million. He also visited the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, where Canada’s SNC-Lavalin recently won a $145-million management contract.

In addition, the Minister took part in a Canadian accreditation ceremony at Riyadh’s Specialized Medical Center Hospital, and held talks with a number of senior officials, including Abdullah Abdulaziz M. Al Rabeeah, Minister of Health; Khalid Al Anqari, Minister of Higher Education; Abdulaziz Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources; and Abdullatif A. Al-Othman, Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority.

In Jordan, Minister Fast and Shabib Ammari, Minister of Industry and Trade, marked the implementation of the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement on October 1, 2012, which will give a competitive advantage to Canadian exporters. The agreement is Canada’s first with an Arab country. Minister Fast also announced, on behalf of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Canada’s Minister of Labour, $200,000 in labour-related technical assistance funding for an International Labour Organization project to strengthen and modernize the labour inspection system, and promote collective bargaining and workplace cooperation in the Aqaba area of Jordan. This funding will be provided in accordance with the related Agreement on Labour Cooperation.

“I am pleased that so many world-class Canadian companies are here with me in Jordan to explore the new opportunities that are available now that our trade agreement is in force,” said Minister Fast. “The preferred access created by this agreement will help businesses expand their operations and provides a foothold in the broader Middle East-North Africa market.”

While in Jordan, Minister Fast held a number of key bilateral meetings with leaders including Fayez al-Tarawneh, Prime Minister, and Nasser Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Minister Fast also visited Arab Potash Company (APC) to discuss how to deepen the company’s relationships with Canada. Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan’s investment in APC is the largest Canadian investment in Jordan.

For more information about upcoming trade missions being organized through the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, please visit Canada Trade Missions.

For more information, please visit Trade Mission to Middle East.

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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
rudy.husny@international.gc.ca

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
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