Minister of International Trade blasts protectionists
June 14, 2012 By Canadian Press
June 14, 2012 – Free and open trade, rather than protectionism, is the
best way to secure a global recovery and create jobs, International
Trade Minister Ed Fast told a Montreal economic conference Wednesday. In a speech to the International Economic Forum of the Americas ,
Fast said Canada must improve its access to growing markets around
the world, particularly in Latin America and the Asia Pacific
Canada's government also hopes to conclude the world&#rsquo;s largest free-trade agreement with the European Union by the end of this year, he added.
Fast said people who deny the benefits of trade willfully ignore
the foundation of Canadian prosperity and its history.
"At its very heart, the anti-trade opposition lacks faith that
Canada can succeed in the global economy," Fast told delegates to
the 18th annual Conference of Montreal. "They represent a Canada that cowers in the face of competition, a Canada that lacks confidence."
Fast said they used "fear-mongering and falsehood" when they
attempted to block the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, the
followup NAFTA agreement that added Mexico to the mix and now
Canada's negotiations with the European Union.
Historically, the outcry against free trade has diminished over
the past three decades.
There was intense opposition to the free-trade negotiations with
the United States in the 1980s, but the Progressive Conservatives
under Brian Mulroney campaigned successfully in support of the issue
and completed the deal. There was a smaller outcry around the NAFTA, begun by the PCs but
kept by the Liberals when they returned to power under Jean
Chretien, who spent much of his time as prime minister promoting
international trade. Canada's negotiations with the European Union have generated little public debate, in contrast to the previous major free trade
talks or to the current attention focused on the EU's ongoing debt
crisis and economic decline.
The Canadian Auto Workers union has tried to convince
Conservative and Liberal governments that countries such as Japan
and South Korea should fully open their markets to Canadian autos as
a precondition of lowering trade barriers.
However, the CAW's publicity campaigns have largely been ignored.
Fast said Wednesday that Canadian workers and businesses have
gained preferred access and a real competitive advantage in markets
around the world. "We look beyond our borders for new horizons, because we believe
that Canadians can compete with the very best in the world, and
win," Fast added.
Like hockey players, Canada's best chance of honing its competitive
trading skills is playing the very best opponents.
"Similarly, international competition helps strengthen Canadian
businesses, making them more productive, more innovative and more
responsive to customer needs."
Since 2006, when the Conservatives came to power, Canada has
concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia,
Jordan, Panama, Peru, the European Free Trade Association (Iceland,
Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Honduras.
It is also deepening trade ties with the world's fastest growing
markets in the world in such countries as Brazil, China and India.
Canada also became the first tariff-free manufacturing zone in
the G20 with the elimination of over 1,800 tariffs on imported
machinery, equipment and manufacturing inputs.
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