Overview: The Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement
The Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA) is a non-binding and cooperation-based arrangement that acknowledges the importance of enhancing the ability of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous businesses to benefit from the opportunities created by international trade and investment. It therefore aims to increase Indigenous peoples’ participation in trade and promote economic development. The Arrangement also commits the Participating economies, jointly with Indigenous representatives, to establish an IPETCA Partnership Council to facilitate cooperation activities.
The Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement – Key provisions
The Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Arrangement (IPETCA) is a non-binding and cooperation-based arrangement on which four Participating economies working on the margins of APEC were able to reach consensus at this time, namely Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei. It is open for other economies to join. Canada endorsed the IPETCA on December 10, 2021. IPETCA acknowledges the importance of Indigenous economic empowerment through inclusive approaches to trade and working together to identify and remove the barriers that Indigenous businesses face when participating in international trade. IPETCA reaffirms a number of important existing Indigenous-specific international instruments such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as acknowledges the important role of the environment in the economic, social and cultural well-being of Indigenous peoples, and the importance of respecting, preserving and maintaining the knowledge and practices of Indigenous peoples that contribute to the conservation of the environment. At the heart of the Arrangement are cooperation activities, developed and advanced in partnership with Indigenous representatives through the IPETCA Partnership Council, with the objective of sharing knowledge, best practices and increasing Indigenous peoples’ participation in the economy and trade.
Cooperation activities may occur in the form of workshops, webinars, conferences, trade missions and joint research projects among the Participating Economies. Cooperation activities may include:
- sharing of experiences and best practices in designing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and strengthening policies and programs to enhance Indigenous peoples’ participation in domestic, regional and global economies;
- working with Indigenous peoples to identify barriers to their participation in trade and design strategies to remove those barriers;
- promoting the participation of Indigenous women-owned businesses in local, regional, and global value chains;
- exchanging views and exploring options in implementing and supporting Indigenous peoples to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression;
- supporting economic opportunities for Indigenous women in trade and investment; and,
- facilitating trading relationships with, between, and among Indigenous peoples, including sharing experiences and information on foreign trade zones.
Importance of the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA)
The Government of Canada is committed to advancing Indigenous peoples’ economic empowerment at home and abroad. Trade has the potential to have a positive impact in economic development and exporting businesses, including Indigenous-owned businesses that export, and can help achieve greater levels of profitability, competitiveness, productivity, innovation, resilience, pay higher wages, and hire more diverse employees. However, Indigenous-owned businesses and workers are less likely to be involved in high export sectors and generally face lower wages.Footnote 1
IPETCA seeks to address these challenges through a range of provisions and cooperation activities with the objective of increasing Indigenous peoples’ participation in and benefit from trade, consistent with Canada’s continued commitment to reconciliation and Indigenous economic empowerment. The full participation of Indigenous peoples in the economy is essential to Canada's future competitiveness and prosperity. Our economy—and our country—cannot reach its full potential if we are leaving people behind.
This Arrangement complements other work that Canada undertakes to support Indigenous economic empowerment in the context of international trade, including advancing dedicated Indigenous peoples’ provisions in Canada’s Free Trade Agreement negotiations, organizing trade missions to showcase Indigenous-owned businesses, and promoting and implementing Indigenous business export support programs.
The important role of Indigenous peoples in the development of the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement
The Government of Canada engaged closely with Indigenous peoples, Indigenous organizations and Indigenous business associations through Global Affairs Canada’s trade-focused Indigenous Working Group (IWG), established in September 2017. Officials have been actively engaging on the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement text in close partnership with interested members of the IWG that formed the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Committee (IPAC).
IPAC’s membership consists of representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Métis National Council, National Aboriginal Forestry Association, International Inter-Tribal Trade and Investment Organization, and the National Indigenous Economic Development Board. Through weekly IPAC meetings, Indigenous representatives from Canada have been able to provide substantive comments and proposals in the development of text to ensure that Indigenous views and objectives are adequately reflected.
Indigenous peoples from other Participating economies in the development of IPETCA also participated in its development.
Opportunities in the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement for Indigenous-owned businesses and Indigenous workers
The Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement reaffirms that Indigenous peoples have the right to be free from discrimination and to fully enjoy all rights affirmed and established under applicable international and domestic law. It commits Participating economies, in partnership with Indigenous peoples, to work on enhancing the ability of Indigenous peoples and businesses, including those led by women, youth, persons with disabilities, and gender and sexually diverse identities and people, to fully access and benefit from the opportunities created by international trade. These objectives will be advanced through joint cooperation activities that will promote Indigenous-owned businesses’ further integration into the global economy. Cooperation activities may include supporting Indigenous peoples in identifying and removing trade barriers, sharing of information and best practices on facilitating Indigenous businesses’ access to e-commerce and existing supply chains, developing Indigenous business networks, trade missions, and promoting access to capital. The activities advanced within the Arrangement will allow for Participating economies and Indigenous peoples to come together to address the trade and investment issues that are important to Indigenous peoples.
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