The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today urged delegates at the 18th Conference of Montreal to guard against protectionism and anti-trade rhetoric, and embrace free and open trade as the best way to secure the global recovery and create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity around the world.
“Our government continues its aggressive implementation of Canada’s Economic Action Plan—a pro-job, pro-growth, pro-trade agenda for prosperity,” said Minister Fast during his keynote address. “We must deepen and broaden our access to dynamic and high-growth markets around the world. Already, our pro-trade leadership has made Canada one of the most open and globally engaged economies in the world.”
Since 2006, the Harper government has pursued the most ambitious pro-trade plan in Canada’s history, concluding free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Peru, the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Honduras. The government has also begun deepening trade and investment ties with the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing markets in the world, including Brazil, China, India, Japan and the European Union. In addition, Canada is the first tariff-free manufacturing zone in the G-20, due to the elimination of over 1,800 tariffs on imported machinery, equipment and manufacturing inputs.
“Thanks to our government’s pro-trade leadership, Canadian workers and businesses now have preferred access to, and a real competitive edge in, more markets around the world than at any other period in our history,” said Minister Fast. “Success and prosperity require that we stand firm in the face of the vocal, vehement and well-organized anti-trade opposition. At its very heart, the anti-trade opposition lacks faith that Canada can succeed in the global economy. They represent a different Canada, one that cowers in the face of competition, a Canada that lacks confidence. Our government rejects that defeatism. We look beyond our borders for new horizons, because we believe that Canadians can compete with the very best in the world, and win.”
Minister Fast delivered his speech on the third day of the Conference of Montreal, which brings together approximately 3,000 participants from 24 countries, including central bank governors, economists, leaders of industry and senior government representatives to discuss pressing global issues.
The theme of this year’s conference is “A global economy in transition.” Current issues relating to the world economic situation and geopolitics are being debated, including the financial crisis and its impact on the world economy, the development and extraction of natural resources, international trade, and the new Americas-European Union economic space.
In his first year as international trade minister, Minister Fast has led trade missions to all of the “BRIC” countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China. Recognized for their tremendous growth potential, BRIC countries need Canadian products, services, skills and expertise.