House of Commons Approves Harper Government’s Trade Agreement with Panama

Ensuring Canadian exporters are on a level playing field in markets like Panama is crucial to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for hard-working Canadians and their families, says Minister Fast

November 7, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that the Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act, together with agreements on labour cooperation and the environment, has been passed by the House of Commons and will be put forward for Royal Assent after passage by the Senate.

“Our government understands that Canadian exporters need to be on a level playing field vis-à-vis their competitors in fast-growing markets around the world,” said Minister Fast. “We are pleased that the Canada-Panama trade agreement has been debated and passed by the House of Commons because we know that businesses that expand and succeed abroad create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity at home.”

Once implemented, a Canada-Panama trade agreement will immediately eliminate tariffs on more than 90 percent of Canadian goods exported to Panama, directly benefiting Canadian exporters in a variety of sectors including aerospace, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, and agriculture and agri-food. An agreement will also give new tools to Canadian businesses to compete with others in Panama’s market. In addition, a Canada-Panama agreement will secure preferred access to the government procurement market in Panama, where the government has a five-year plan to invest in major infrastructure projects.

“The Canada-Panama free trade agreement is a key step toward deepening the long-standing relationship between our two countries,” said the Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs). “By being a reliable partner in the Americas our government is creating new opportunities for Canadian workers and their families, and delivering on our commitment to help build a more prosperous, secure and democratic hemisphere.”

Panama is an important market for Canada and a strategic hub of commercial activity for Central America, the Caribbean and the Andean region of South America. Panama is Canada’s second-largest export market in Central America, after Costa Rica, with bilateral merchandise trade reaching $235.3 million in 2011, up 10.1 percent over 2010.

In less than six years, the Harper government has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In addition, Canada is in ongoing negotiations with the European Union, India and Japan, and recently joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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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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