Address by Minister Van Loan at APEC CEO Summit

No. 2010/93 - Yokohama, Japan - November 12, 2010

Check Against Delivery

It’s a pleasure to participate in this panel.

Canada believes that trade agreements—bilateral, regional and multilateral—play an important role as our economies move closer to recovery.

Trade and economic cooperation have certainly fuelled success here in the Asia-Pacific region.

Since APEC’s formation in 1989, total merchandise trade in the region has grown by 350 percent.

Now, with about 40 trade agreements in force among Asia-Pacific economies, this region is a great example of how free trade is a pathway to jobs, growth and strong economies.

Canada’s experience with free trade has also been very positive.

Since the North American Free Trade Agreement came into force, Canada’s merchandise trade with the United States has increased by 73 percent.

Last year, even in the midst of the global economic downturn, more than $1.6 billion in goods and services crossed the Canada-U.S. border each day.

Our two-way investment is also extraordinary, reaching about $549.6 billion in 2009.

Canada and the United States have become integral parts of each other’s supply chains; we make things together.

Meanwhile, our trade with Mexico has more than quadrupled. 

Our domestic industries have thrived through North American free trade by selling to our partners, linking in to North American supply chains and drawing investment to Canada.

We’re now looking to replicate this success through bilateral free trade agreements with key markets around the world.

While Canada remains strongly committed to progress in the World Trade Organization, we also recognize that, like so many other trade-dependent nations, we must move forward with an ambitious agenda of free trade negotiations to open new markets for Canadian businesses and create jobs and opportunities for Canadian workers.

This means looking beyond the multilateral level.

That’s why, over the last four years, our government has concluded new trade agreements with eight countries, and we are in negotiations with close to 50 others.

We are also focused on the Asia-Pacific region.

Over the last quarter century, our trade links to this region have expanded dramatically.

We want more trans-Pacific business with economies like Australia, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asia.

Look at our partnership with Japan—our second-largest partner in Asia in terms of merchandise trade and our largest in Asia when it comes to investment.

We have a strong contingent of Canadian companies in Japan.

And we have many Japanese companies taking advantage of Canada’s great business environment.

I know that we can grow the Canada-Japan commercial relationship through freer trade, with an economic partnership agreement or a free trade agreement.

A Canada-Japan joint study in 2007 found that eliminating trade tariffs would bring economic benefits to Japan worth almost US$6.2 billion, and boost Japanese exports by US$2.4 billion.

It’s a great example of how we can take a mature, sophisticated trade relationship and open new doors of opportunity for our businesses, innovators and investors.

That’s also why Canada strongly supports economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the steps that are being taken to create a regional free trade area as a long-term objective.

Canada also believes that, far from hindering a successful conclusion to the Doha Round, our success with regional and multilateral trade in the region can inspire global leaders to be more ambitious in removing barriers to trade.

The success of the Asia-Pacific region as an integrated economic powerhouse stands as a model to the world.

It shows how individual nations can open doors to cooperation and create new opportunities and jobs across borders.

It’s a model of success that the world needs now, more than ever, as we continue on the path to economic recovery creating the jobs and prosperity our citizens are seeking.

Thank you.