Canada-EU trade talks have 'important progress:' Canadian official

10:19, July 16, 2011      

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Canada's Minister of International Trade Ed Fast on Friday hailed the "important progress" made so far in free trade negotiations with the European Union, saying the two sides aim to complete the talks by 2012.

Fast made the remarks as Canada and the EU concluded their eighth round of talks, which took place earlier this week in Brussels.

The minister said in a press release that ambitious offers had been exchanged on goods and government procurement during the week, saying that talks continue to move forward with the aim of completing negotiations by 2012.

"We are making important progress as we move closer toward an agreement that has the potential to dramatically boost two-way trade and create jobs and prosperity in all regions of Canada," said Fast.

Canada and the EU have held eight successful rounds of negotiations since October, 2009. To date, significant progress has been achieved in all negotiating areas, including goods, services, investment, government procurement and many others. The ninth round is scheduled to take place in Ottawa this October.

Fast called the negotiations "our most significant trade initiative since the North American Free Trade Agreement," saying that some issues still need to be resolved.

The European Union, with its 27 member states and a population of 500 million, is Canada's second-largest merchandise export market and the second-largest investor after the United States.

A Canada-EU joint economic study, released in October 2008, shows that a Canada-EU free trade agreement could boost Canadian GDP by at least 12 billion Canadian dollars (about 12.58 billion U. S. dollars), and benefit workers in many sectors of the Canadian economy, including aerospace, chemicals, plastics, aluminum, wood products and manufacturing, as well as commodity- and resource- based businesses.

"Broadening and expanding access to more markets -- like the European Union -- is a key part of our job-creating, pro-trade plan." Fast concluded.

Since 2006, Canada has launched an ambitious trade agenda, opening doors for Canadian businesses by concluding new free trade agreements with eight countries: Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Negotiations are also under way with India, which could boost Canada's economy by at least 6 billion Canadian dollars. (1 U.S. dollar equals 0.9536 Canadian dollar)

Source: Xinhua
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