The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today gave a keynote speech at the Toronto Global Forum in which he lauded the many advantages of trade, while marking the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of negotiations on the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
“Twenty-five years on, history has shown that trade is the best way to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for hard-working people around the world,” said Minister Fast. “The historic agreement reached in 1987 placed Canada and the United States at the forefront of trade liberalization, and, to this day, is the world’s greatest free trade success story.”
Since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into force in 1989, Canada’s annual GDP has risen by $1.1 trillion, nearly 4.6 million jobs have been created in Canada, and two-way trade in goods and services with the United States has more than tripled. After its successor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was implemented in 1994, productivity in Canada increased by 14 percent, which has translated into higher wages for workers and increased competitiveness of Canadian industry.
“Building on this success, our government is undertaking the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history, which includes a comprehensive, next generation trade agreement with the European Union,” said Minister Fast. “This agreement has the potential to be broader and deeper in scope than the historic NAFTA.”
A joint Canada-EU study found that an ambitious trade and economic agreement with the European Union would benefit workers and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic by boosting the bilateral trade in goods and services by 20 percent. According to the same study, the agreement would increase the size of Canada’s economy by $12 billion annually. That translates to an increase of $1,000 to the average Canadian family’s income, or 80,000 new jobs across the country.
During his speech, Minister Fast also highlighted the need to ensure Canadians have the facts about the benefits of deeper Canada-EU trade, especially given the myths that anti-trade activists continue to spread about the negotiations.
“Twenty-five years ago, trade deniers claimed that trade with the United States would wipe out millions of jobs, compromise Canada’s sovereignty over our fresh water, and cause us to lose our Canadian culture,” said Minister Fast. “None of these claims came true. In fact, precisely the opposite happened. The Canadian economy has boomed; hard-working Canadians have benefitted; we still have full control over our water; and Canadian culture is alive and well. Make no mistake: the anti-trade activists were wrong then about our trade with the United States, and they are wrong now about our trade with the EU.”
The EU is Canada’s second-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade totalling $116.7 billion in 2011. With more than 500 million consumers and a GDP of over $17 trillion, the EU is the world’s largest integrated economy.
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