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Canada To Join Plurilateral Trade Talks

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

21 March 2013

The Canadian Government has announced that it will participate in negotiations toward a new agreement on international trade in services.

The talks will be launched with the initial involvement of 21 World Trade Organization (WTO) members, which together represent more than two thirds of world trade in services. Both during and after conclusion of the negotiations, the agreement will be open to all other WTO members who wish to join. They will cover all services sectors, including information and communication technology services, logistics and transport, financial services and services for businesses.

According to Government figures, services represent almost 70% of the Canadian economy, and are responsible for the employment of nearly 13.5m workers. In 2011, Canada exported a total of almost CAD83bn (USD81bn) worth of services.

The Government believes that a potential agreement could provide increased access to and legal stability in markets that are open but not subject to trade agreements. It has launched a public consultation on the talks, seeking views from businesses, citizen-based organizations and individual Canadians, as well as from the provincial and territorial governments. These consultations will run until April 30.

Making the announcement, International Trade Minister Ed Fast said: "A high-quality international agreement that will liberalize trade in services will lead to new and exciting opportunities for Canada’s small and medium-sized enterprises and boost trade in Canada’s financial, engineering, energy, mining and environmental services sectors. As part of the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history, our government will continue to expand Canada’s global trade and investment footprint."

Michael Landry, Chair of the Canadian Services Coalition, welcomed the news: "Services are a vital and growing component of the Canadian economy. Today they represent almost two-thirds of our GDP, yet movement on this front has long been stalled by the Doha Round. The Canadian Services Coalition is pleased that the Canadian government is prepared to be at the table for these important negotiations, and we look forward to the rapid conclusion of an ambitious and comprehensive agreement on services."

TAGS: tax | business | energy | financial services | agreements | withholding tax | Canada | import duty | trade | services

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