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Harper Government Focused Squarely on Jobs and Economy at World Economic Forum Meetings

Canada’s Economic Action Plan recognized as the path to prosperity for other countries around the world to follow, ministers say

January 26 , 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, together with Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture), along with Canadian industry and business leaders, promoted Canada’s leadership and economic success at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), held from January 23 to 27 in Davos, Switzerland.

“The success of Canada’s Economic Action Plan—and its focus on creating jobs and long-term prosperity for Canadian families—is being recognized around the world as a pro-growth, pro-trade and pro-investment plan for other countries to follow,” said Minister Fast. “Our government is continuing to open new markets to increase Canadian exports around the world, and we are ensuring that the most ambitious trade expansion plan in our nation’s history continues to deliver for workers and businesses.”

During this year’s WEF, the government ministers met with key counterparts, communicated and discussed Canada’s economic success in WEF sessions and hosted pre-Budget consultations with Canadian business and industry leaders.

“Our government’s top priority is the economy, and we are committed to a return to a balanced budget by the end of this Parliament,” said Minister Flaherty. “With one of the lowest net public debt levels of any industrialized country and a banking system that has been lauded for five years in a row as the world’s safest and most stable, we encourage all countries to put their finances on a sustainable long-term path, as we have done, in order to ensure that a global economic recovery takes root.”

“Canadians know that their future prosperity depends on Canada expanding access to new and emerging economic powers in Asia, the Americas, Africa and elsewhere while strengthening economic ties with Europe and the United States,” said Minister Baird. “Canada is pursuing a foreign policy agenda that promotes our interests and values.”

For his part, Minister Paradis stated: “With one in five Canadian jobs linked to exports and one in 10 Canadian jobs linked to foreign investment, our government is actively opening new markets and seeking new sources of international investment. From our strong, stable financial system, low taxes and business-friendly environment to our innovative, well-educated and multicultural workforce, Canada truly provides stability for our trading partners and global investors.”

On the margins of the WEF meeting, Minister Fast also made an active contribution at the World Trade Organization informal ministerial meeting, where he spoke candidly with his counterparts about the future of the WTO, Canada’s expectations and its commitment to continuing to play a leadership role in the multilateral trading system.

In less than six years, Canada has concluded 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 engaged in negotiations with large, dynamic and fast-growing markets, such as the European Union, Japan, India and the countries that comprise the Trans-Pacific Partnership

For additional details on Canada’s presence at the WEF, please consult Canada at World Economic Forum.

To find comprehensive, multilingual information on Canada’s many investment and business advantages, please see Invest in Canada.

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A backgrounder 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

Kathleen Perchaluk
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jim Flaherty
Minister of Finance

Jack Aubry
Media Relations
Department of Finance

Margaux Stastny
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Christian Paradis
Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Media Relations
Industry Canada

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

Backgrounder - The Canadian Advantage

Canada’s strong economic fundamentals and world-leading competitive advantages make it an investment destination of choice for global investors. These advantages include:

Strong economic growth: Canada led all G-7 countries in economic growth over the past decade (2002-11). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) each predict that Canada will remain among those G-7 countries having the fastest growth in 2013. Canada has also recorded the fastest employment growth in the G-7, with the Canadian economy creating more than 900,000 net new jobs since July 2009. Canada’s economy currently has more than 490,000 more jobs than it did when employment levels reached their peak before the 2008 recession, making Canada one of only two G-7 countries to have regained all of the jobs lost during the global recession.

Solid economic fundamentals: Forbes magazine rates Canada as the best country in the G-20 with which to do business. Canada entered the global recession with a strong record of balanced budgets and low debt: according to the IMF, Canada’s net debt-to-GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G-7, by far. Canada also has the strongest fiscal position in the G-7 and among the best fiscal prospects in the G‑20. Canada is set to return to a balanced budget over the medium term. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 33 percent in 2011-12 and it is projected to decline to 28.1 percent by 2017-18.

Financial stability: Canada’s strength is underpinned by what the World Economic Forum affirmed as the world’s most stable financial sector, five years in a row. The WEF also rated Canada’s banking system as the soundest in the world. At a time when financial institutions around the world were collapsing, no Canadian bank or insurer failed and none required bailouts. Global Finance magazine has affirmed that six of the top 10 safest banks in North America are Canadian. Standard & Poor’s has reaffirmed its AAA credit rating for Canada.

Low business costs and taxes: Canada offers a low-cost, low-tax environment. Canada’s overall tax rate on new business investment is substantially lower than that of other G-7 countries’. Canada has a combined federal-provincial statutory general corporate income tax rate of 26.1 percent, which is below the level of most other G-7 countries and about 13 percentage points lower than that of the United States. KPMG ranks Canada as the most competitive country in the G‑7. Canada is the first G-20 member to have made itself a tariff-free zone for manufacturers by eliminating tariffs on manufacturing inputs, machinery and equipment.

Excellence in research and innovation: Canada offers a winning environment for research and innovation, including world-leading R & D infrastructure, innovation incentives and scientific talent. Canada has the G-7’s highest expenditures on R & D conducted in institutions of higher education, when measured as a share of GDP. Canada offers one of the most generous R & D tax incentives in the industrialized world. Combined federal and provincial credits can return to foreign investors, on average, up to 30 percent of their R & D investment in Canada. R & D-intensive sectors in Canada also enjoy the lowest costs in the G-7, with a cost that is 10.7 percent lower than that in the United States.

A competitive workforce: Canada is home to a highly educated, flexible and multicultural workforce that is well suited to today’s knowledge-based economy. Canada has one of the world’s best-educated workforces, with the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates among OECD members. Canada ranks second among G-7 members and fifth in the world for the quality of its management schools, according to the WEF. According to the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development, Canada has the highest number of qualified engineers in the G-7. Canadians are linguistically diverse, speaking a variety of languages in addition to one of Canada’s official languages, English and French.

Exceptional quality of life: Canada’s high quality of life provides a great backdrop for the success of individuals, families and globally engaged companies. According to the World Bank, in 2011 Canadians enjoyed the second-highest standard of living in the G-20, as measured by GDP per capita. Canada ranked second among G-7 countries in the 2011 UN Human Development Index, having one of the most multicultural populations in the world, a universal health-care system, world-class universities and clean and friendly cities.

A gateway to the world: With the shortest sailing time between Asia and North America, Canada offers businesses ready access to a lucrative North American market of more than 460 million consumers. Canada has major international shipping ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (Halifax, Vancouver and Prince Rupert) and along the St. Lawrence Seaway (Montréal). Seventeen of Canada’s 20 largest cities are located within a 90-minute drive of the Canada-U.S. border. Canada’s ports and airports, served by fast and reliable air, rail and road transport, provide international gateways to and from the North American continent.

Find out more at Invest in Canada.