Canadian Government Explains Benefits Of EU FTA
September 20, 2011
Canada's Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway has been explaining the government's intention to forge ahead with an ambitious job-creating, pro-trade plan, which includes the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU).
Ed Fast toured businesses in Prince Edward Island and Halifax between September 14-15, and explained that, "with one in five Canadian jobs directly or indirectly dependent on trade, expanding Canada's trading relationships is crucial to protecting and strengthening the financial security of hard-working Canadians". The government hopes that the implementation of an FTA with the EU could generate 80,000 new jobs, and boost the Canadian economy by CAD12bn (USD12.7bn) annually. It also expects to see a 20% increase in two-way trade, and the FTA offer Canadians access to a market populated by 500m consumers.
In both Prince Edward Island and Halifax, Fast believes the potato, fish and seafood sectors in particular will benefit. The potato export market was worth CAD252.6m last year, and the government is seeking to completely eliminate tariffs on all fish and seafood products under the FTA. These tariffs currently average 11% but are as high as 25% on some products.
Robert Irving, President of Cavendish Farms in Prince Edward Island, said: "A new agreement with European Union countries would represent significant opportunities for exporters in Atlantic Canada to develop new markets. Canada's July 2009 agreement with Iceland is a very positive recent example that has seen our shipments to this country double. We welcome Canada's efforts to expand the access of local businesses to new global markets."
In Halifax, Ian Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Clearwater seafood facility, added: "A trade agreement with the European Union would give businesses on the East Coast a level playing field on which to expand, compete and invest for growth and to benefit workers."
Over the past six years, the Canadian government has concluded FTAs with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Discussions are also underway with a number of other countries, including India, with whom a deal could be worth CAD6bn to the Canadian economy.
Fast concluded: "We know that businesses that succeed abroad create jobs and prosperity here at home and that is why we will continue to deepen Canada's trading relationships. In this fragile economic recovery, we know history has shown protectionist measures stall growth and kill jobs. Our government is committed to delivering free trade leadership, and Canadians can count on us to defend free and open trade on the world stage."
Fast said in July that negotiators had made significant progress on the conclusion of the EU FTA. The aim is to complete the talks by 2012.
- by Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, Washington
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