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Address by Minister Fast Announcing Increased Mercosur Ties

No. 2011/26 - Asunción, Paraguay - June 24, 2011

Check Against Delivery

It is a great pleasure to be here with Paraguay’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Lara Castro.

Today, Canada and our Mercosur partners—including Paraguay—are taking an important step forward in our partnership.

We are announcing that we are moving forward with exploratory discussions to examine options that could enhance our commercial relationship in the years to come.

With nearly 250 million consumers—and a total economy that accounts for almost three quarters of all economic activity in South America—Mercosur is an exciting market for Canada.

Last year, our bilateral merchandise trade reached $7.9 billion—an increase of about 150 percent from a decade ago.

During this visit to Paraguay, I’ve seen first hand the kind of opportunities that can boost trade and drive economic prosperity in both countries in the years ahead. That’s what today’s announcement is all about.

If the opportunities we see here in Paraguay are any indication, our discussions with all of the Mercosur countries have the potential to open up countless avenues to expand and deepen trade with Canada, as well as to develop strategic partnerships.

Trade and investment are critical to a country’s economy. They create jobs, prosperity and opportunities for people.

I look forward to working with Minister Lara Castro and people in both of our countries—and across the Mercosur partnership—to make these discussions a success, and to unlock new opportunities for people in both regions.

Thank you.