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Trade policy 101

Quick facts: Canada as a trading nation

Expanding trade and investment is key to ensuring meaningful, inclusive and sustainable prosperity for Canadians, businesses and communities. To support this objective, Canada actively implements a trade policy that aims to:

  1. develop and maintain access to strategic foreign markets for Canadian goods, services, and investments;
  2. manage key trading relationships while diversifying opportunities; and
  3. maximize the benefits of trade for all Canadians.

Global Affairs Canada leads on the development and implementation of Canadian trade policy, including through the negotiation and implementation of international trade, investment, and air transportation agreements; ensuring bilateral market access; litigation and dispute settlement; and the administration of trade controls under the Export and Import Permits Act, and more. Visit Trade policy in focus to learn more about key trade policy areas covered by Canada’s Trade Policy team.

All this is done in collaboration with a wide range of partners including federal departments and agencies, and through active dialogue with provincial and territorial governments, industry representatives, civil society and Indigenous peoples.

Trade policy priorities

Canada’s trade policy is based on three mutually reinforcing priorities:

Support to a strong multilateral trading system

The multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its core, is the cornerstone of Canada’s trade policy. Canada also plays a leadership role in WTO reform, including by chairing the “Ottawa Group” of likeminded WTO members. Learn more about Canada and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Canada is also an active participant in other multilateral institutions that play important trade policy roles, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the G7, and the G20.

Trade diversification

A long-standing trade policy priority is the diversification of markets for Canadian goods, services and investments through the negotiation of multilateral and bilateral regional free trade agreements (FTAs).

Canada currently has 14 bilateral and regional FTAs in force, covering 51 countries and nearly two thirds of global GDP. As the only G7 nation with FTAs with all other six countries, Canada is at the centre of global trading networks.

Learn more about Canada’s trade and investment agreements, Agreement types and How trade and investment agreements develop in stages.

Canada’s inclusive approach to trade

Canada seeks to ensure that the benefits of trade and investment are more widely shared, both in Canada and abroad. This is done by advancing trade policies and provisions in trade agreements that maximize the benefits of trade for traditionally underrepresented groups such as women, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and Indigenous peoples. Canada also consults with a broad range of Canadians across the country to develop its trade policy positions and objectives, with a view to ensure that these align with all of our interests and needs. Learn more on Canada’s inclusive approach to trade.

Trade policy for sustainable and inclusive growth

Canada’s trade policy has economic, environmental and social implications that must be taken into account in order to ensure that the initiatives we advance effectively contribute to our sustainable and inclusive prosperity. Impact assessments are an integral part of all trade negotiations and help decision makers advance policy options that support Canada’s environmentally responsible economic growth, for the benefit of all Canadians.

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