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Harper Government Advances Pro-Trade Plan to Open New Markets in 2012

Expanded trade opportunities for Canadian exporters are helping create jobs, growth and prosperity, says Minister Fast

December 27, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today highlighted key accomplishments for 2012 of the most ambitious trade-expansion plan in Canada’s history.

“Our government’s top priority is creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in every region of Canada,” said Minister Fast. “That is why we are working hard to open new markets to increase Canadian exports to the world’s largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing economies and regions.”

In 2012, Canada continued to oppose protectionist measures and stand up for free and open trade, showing leadership on the world stage in what remains a challenging period for the global economy. From strong job creation and rock-solid economic fundamentals, to maintaining low taxes and other world-leading investment advantages, 2012’s accomplishments are clear proof that Canada’s Economic Action Plan is delivering real benefits for hard-working Canadians and their families.

Key accomplishments from 2012 that are helping create new jobs and opportunities for workers, businesses and exporters include:

  • joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and participating in a first full round of negotiations;
  • signing a two-year extension to the Canada-United States Softwood Lumber Agreement that secures access to the U.S. market for Canadian softwood lumber until 2015;
  • launching the first round of negotiations with Japan toward an economic partnership agreement;
  • making continuing progress toward trade agreements with the European Union and India;
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of Thailand announcing that our two countries will pursue exploratory discussions toward a bilateral free trade agreement;
  • achieving observer status with the Pacific Alliance, a grouping of four fast-growing Pacific countries in Latin America;
  • the entering into force of the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement;
  • the Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act receiving royal assent;
  • tabling of the expanded Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement in the House of Commons;
  • completing the fifth year of the five-year Global Commerce Strategy, the launching of cross-country consultations and the naming of an advisory panel to help shape the next phase of the Strategy;
  • establishing a record number of trade missions in order to advance Canadian commercial interests abroad, including to India, China, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Russia and Libya;
  • conducting a historic trade mission to Burma and establishing a Trade Commissioner Service presence there;
  • making ongoing progress in implementing the Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation Council Action Plans to improve the flow of people and goods between Canada and the United States, and laying the foundation for more jobs and growth in both countries.
  • celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement; and
  • continuing Canada’s leadership on the world stage in opposing protectionism and supporting free and open trade.

“Our government’s leadership in resisting protectionist measures and continuing to create new opportunities for our exporters has been key to Canada’s success,” said Minister Fast. “Thanks to our actions, Canadian workers, businesses and exporters, including small and medium-sized enterprises that form the backbone of our economy, now have preferred access to, and a real competitive edge in, more high-growth and emerging markets around the world than at any other time in our history.”

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. Canada is also engaged in negotiations with large, dynamic and fast-growing markets, including the European Union, India, Japan and the countries that comprise the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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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

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

Backgrounder - Canada’s Trade Leadership and Economic Successes in 2012

In 2012, Canada advanced its job-creating, pro-trade plan on a number of fronts:

Opening New Markets

Standing Up for Canadian Interests

  • United States—The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body confirmed that the United States Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) measure discriminates against trade in Canadian livestock and is therefore inconsistent with the WTO trade obligations of the United States. 
  • United States—A tribunal of the London Court of International Arbitration, convened under the Softwood Lumber Agreement, ruled that Canada had not circumvented the agreement, as alleged by the United States, with the timber-pricing system for British Columbia’s Interior.
  • United States—Canada and the United States implemented a new import system for steel and steel products. The new measure will reduce congestion at the Canada-U.S. border and lessen the financial and administrative burden facing Canadian businesses.

Helping Canadian Businesses Expand and Succeed Abroad

Protecting Canadian Investors Abroad and Bringing Foreign Investment to Canada

Positioning Canada for Long-Term Prosperity

  • Education—An advisory panel of eminent Canadians provided recommendations to help guide Canada’s International Education Strategy. International students contribute over $8 billion to the Canadian economy and $445 million to government tax revenue each year, supporting more than 86,000 jobs.
  • A refresh of the Global Commerce Strategy—Minister Fast held cross-country consultations and named an advisory panel to refresh Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy (GCS), a central element of the government’s pro-trade plan to open new markets.

Helping Grow Private Sector and Business to Business Ties in Priority Markets

  • Minister Fast announced the names of the Canadian members of the Canada-India CEO Forum. The business-to-business forum will help both countries reach a shared goal of tripling bilateral trade.
  • Minister Fast announced the creation of the Canada-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business Council, which will focus on growing private sector cooperation between Canadian and Southeast Asian businesses. The Minister also announced the adoption of a 2012-2015 work plan to deepen trade and investment ties between Canada and ASEAN.
  • Six Canadian business leaders were named to the new Canada-Brazil CEO Forum. The forum will help grow trade and investment ties with fast-growing Brazil.