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NEWS RELEASE · 18th May 2010
M. of International Trade
Minister highlights Canada’s ambitious free trade agenda

The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today told U.S. decision makers and business leaders about Canada’s economic success. He emphasized that Canada is fighting protectionism and opening doors to international markets.

As Minister Van Loan observed, Canada is a great place in which to invest. It offers strong economic growth, the lowest taxes on new business investment, and the lowest debt–to-GDP ratio in the G7.

“Free trade is the cornerstone of the Canada-U.S. relationship,” said Minister Van Loan. “Our success in strengthening the North American market has inspired Canada’s overall trade agenda. Canada’s ambitious free trade agenda demonstrates our belief that open trade can make us all more prosperous and competitive.”

Minister Van Loan delivered these remarks at Next Steps for the World Trade Agenda, an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Also participating in the event were U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and World Trade Organization Deputy Director-General Rufus H. Yerxa.

During his remarks, Minister Van Loan also emphasized Canada’s opposition to a proposed bank tax.

“Canada’s banking sector is recognized as the most stable in the G7,” said Minister Van Loan. “Levying a tax would punish our financial sector for good performance. Our banks acted responsibly to avoid toxic assets throughout the recession. It makes no sense to impose a punitive tax on them now, a tax that would be unfair to the consumers who would ultimately foot the bill.”

The North American Free Trade Agreement has contributed to significant growth in trade and foreign direct investment in North America. Merchandise trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States has nearly doubled, reaching US$699.2 billion in 2009. It is now one of the largest free trade areas in the world, with some 448 million consumers.

In less than four years, the Government of Canada has opened doors to Canadian business by concluding new free trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, Jordan, Panama and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In 2010, the Government of Canada will have the opportunity to share its vision for trade at international events hosted in Canada, including the Muskoka G8 Summit and the Toronto G20 Summit.

The G20 agenda will focus on restoring the health of the global economy and laying the foundation for future sustainable and balanced growth. Key to achieving this will be for the G20 to follow through on existing commitments. These include a commitment to resist protectionism and promote open markets.