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Opening new markets; opening a new continent

By: Blake Richards

  |  Posted: Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 11:53 am

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Today, with one in five Canadian jobs dependent on exports, our future prosperity hinges on opening new markets for Canadian goods, services and investment.

This is why our Conservative Government launched the most ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history.

Last fall, our government reached an agreement in principle on a trade agreement with the European Union. It is the biggest deal Canada has ever made, and will generate significant benefits, jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.

Building on this success, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced that our government has concluded negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement with South Korea.

This agreement will create thousands of new jobs across Canada in a wide range of sectors and is expected to boost the Canadian economy by $1.7 billion annually. It will provide Canadian businesses with preferential access to more than 50 million new customers in the world’s 15th-largest economy. It also levels the playing field for Canadian companies competing with Korea’s existing free trade partners – the United States and the European Union.

Our constituency stands to benefit significantly from this agreement. For instance, our agricultural exports to South Korea currently face high tariff rates, which averaged 52.7 percent in 2012. The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement will eliminate tariffs on 86.8 percent of agricultural tariff lines, benefitting the producers and processors of wheat, pork, beef, canola oil, un-roasted barley malt, and many other products.

A lot of other sectors will also greatly benefit from the agreement, including forestry and value-added wood products; industrial goods; metals and minerals; and business, telecommunications and E-commerce services.

Overall, Alberta has a lot to gain from the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, as South Korea is already Alberta’s fifth-largest export destination.

While the European trade deal is larger, giving Canada preferential access to 500 million consumers, the deal with Korea is significant for another reason: It is Canada’s first free trade deal in Asia, opening the door to a lucrative market in the years to come.

Seeking new opportunities for growth will continue to be one of our government’s top priorities. In less than seven years, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries and is negotiating with 30 more. Moving forward, Canadians can count on us to continue working to reduce trade barriers and create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians.


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