Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act Receives Royal Assent

Ensuring Canadian exporters preferred access to fast-growing markets such as Panama is crucial to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for hard-working Canadians and their families, says Minister Fast

December 14, 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 has received royal assent.

“Our government’s top priority remains the creation of jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians,” said Minister Fast. “Panama is one of the fastest-growing markets in the Americas and a strategic gateway to Latin America. This agreement is a key part of our government’s plan to open new markets to increase Canadian exports as part of the most ambitious trade expansion plan in our nation’s history.”

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. In addition, an agreement will give Canadian suppliers preferred access to the government procurement market in Panama, where the government has a five-year plan to invest in major infrastructure projects worth $13.4 billion.

“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). “Canada is committed to strong economic partnerships that will contribute to enhanced prosperity right across the Americas. By being a reliable partner in the region, our government is creating new opportunities for Canadian workers and their families.”

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. It 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. Increasing economic opportunity in the Americas has been a Canadian foreign policy priority since 2007.

With both Canada and Panama having now completed their domestic ratification processes, the two countries will proceed to set a date for the entry into force of the agreement.

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. Canada also has observer status, alongside Panama, with the Pacific Alliance.

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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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