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Canada Legislates For Panama, Jordan FTAs

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

21 November 2011

Canada's implementation of its free trade agreements (FTAs) with Jordan and Panama will result in expanded opportunities in priority regions, benefiting the country's business and workers, the minister in charge has said.

Following through on a commitment made in the June 2011 Speech from the Throne, Ed Fast, the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, has introduced the Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act and the Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act, which will implement the FTAs.

Fast was joined by Maxime Bernier, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) and key industry representatives, as well as by Basheer Fawwaz Zoubi, Jordan’s Ambassador to Canada, and Francisco Carlo Escobar Pedreschi, Panama’s Ambassador to Canada.

The deals with Jordan and Panama were signed in June, 2009 and May, 2010 respectively. On implementation, the Jordanian FTA will eliminate tariffs on the vast majority of Canadian exports to Jordan. Key sectors in Canada that will benefit from this immediate duty-free access to the Jordanian market include forestry and manufacturing, agricultural products and agri-foods such as pulses, frozen potato products and beef.

The treaty with Panama will eliminate tariffs on over 99% of Canadian non-agriculture exports. Other benefits of the agreement include investment provisions, which will increase protection, transparency and security for Canadian investors in Panama. In addition, the agreement will secure access to the government procurement market, including the CAD5.4bn (USD5.25bn) expansion of the Panama Canal and other infrastructure projects.

Fast commented: “Strengthening the financial security of Canadians, creating new jobs and promoting economic growth through deepened trade are my top priorities. Free trade agreements with Jordan and Panama are a key part of our government’s job-creating, pro-trade plan to protect and increase the prosperity of hard-working Canadians. Our government will continue to defend and promote our specific interests in every sector of our economy, including supply management.”

J. Hugh O’Donnell, Chairman of the Canadian-Arab Business Council, said: “The economic possibilities for Canadian businesses engaged with Jordan should be dramatically increased. In fact, this free trade agreement offers incredible potential for businesses to expand throughout the Arab peninsula with Jordan as the gateway.”

Jayson Myers, President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, added: “The implementation of these two agreements will improve access to two growth markets for Canadian goods, services and investment at a time when Canadian manufacturers and exporters are focusing on finding new customers and business opportunities around the world. We urge Parliament to pass this legislation quickly. This is especially critical in a context where our main trading partner, the United States, implemented its trade agreement with Jordan last year and ratified its agreement with Panama last month.”

Once passed by the House of Commons and the Senate, both pieces of legislation must receive Royal Assent from the Governor General in order to become law.

Over the past six years, the Canadian government has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

In addition, it has also launched negotiations on a number of trade agreements, including with India and the European Union, two of the largest markets in the world. These negotiations are part of the government’s ambitious pro-trade plan to increase opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers.

TAGS: tax | business | free trade agreement (FTA) | law | tariffs | trade treaty | food | agreements | manufacturing | legislation | Canada | Jordan | trade | Panama

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