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Harper Government’s Trade Liberalization Leadership Continues

Jobs and growth the priority as progress is made toward an agreement to facilitate global services trade

June 28, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today marked the conclusion of a round of negotiations for a trade in services agreement (TISA). The round took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from June 24 to 28, 2013, with 22 WTO members participating.

“Our government is focused on creating new jobs and new sources of prosperity for Canadians in every region of our country,” said Minister Fast. “Canada is one of the world’s largest services exporters, and our services sector sustains nearly four in five Canadian jobs. That is why we are playing an active role with key trading partners to reach a comprehensive and forward-thinking agreement that will open new markets for Canada’s world-class service providers.”

Following the conclusion of the round, the members of TISA issued a statement expressing their satisfaction with the progress of the discussions, confirming that they had entered full negotiating mode and encouraging other members of the WTO to take part in the liberalization of trade in services. A comprehensive TISA will provide increased access, as well as legal stability and transparency for Canadian service providers in markets that are open but not subject to trade agreements.

“These negotiations have the potential to unlock valuable new opportunities for Canadian services companies,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The services sector is a key component of the Canadian economy, representing 70 percent of our GDP. For too long, international progress on services has been held up by the Doha Round. The fact that these negotiations are being undertaken by a group of like-minded countries sends a strong signal to the business community, which expects this agreement to contain a high level of ambition. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its subsidiary, the Canadian Services Coalition, will continue to press for a rapid and ambitious conclusion to these negotiations.”

In 2012, Canada exported a total of almost $83-billion worth of services. It is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of engineering services and a significant exporter in several other sectors, from mining to finance to information technology.

A backgrounder follows.

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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

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

Backgrounder - Negotiations for Trade in Services Agreement

In March 2013, Canada announced its intention to join a group of major WTO members, including the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Turkey and the United States, in negotiations toward a new trade in services agreement (TISA).

There are currently 22 parties taking part in the TISA negotiations: Australia; Canada; Chile; Chinese Taipei; Colombia; the European Union; Hong Kong, China; Costa Rica; Iceland; Israel; Japan; New Zealand; Norway; Mexico; Pakistan; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; the Republic of Korea; Switzerland; Turkey; and the United States. The participants have agreed to remain welcoming to other WTO members that wish to join the negotiations and that share the objectives of the group.

The services industry includes, among other things, telecommunications services, financial services, computer services, retail distribution, transportation, environmental services, express delivery, energy services and professional services (e.g. accountants, lawyers, architects and engineers).

While services are not subject to tariffs, they can still be subjected to discriminatory barriers such as nationality requirements and restrictions on foreign investment. As well, many laws and regulations regarding services are not transparent or predictable in many countries. These barriers often exceed those for goods. A services trade agreement makes it easier for Canadian companies to offer their services to customers living in another country.