In the Speech from the Throne to open the Second Session of the 41st Parliament of Canada, delivered on October 16, 2013 by Governor General David Johnston, the Government of Canada reconfirms its commitment to advancing its international trade policy objectives and gave some direction as to Canada's emerging trade policy for the current session of Parliament.
CANADA'S GLOBAL COMMERCE STRATEGY
Launched in 2007, Canada's Global Commerce Strategy (CCS) saw the federal government commit to C$50-million a year towards
- Securing favourable terms of access to the markets, investment and innovation opportunities where Canadian commercial interests are greatest
- Attracting global investment and innovation to Canada and facilitating Canadian commercial engagement abroad
- Expanding Canada's international commercial network.
Thirteen priority markets were also identified under the CCS as those where Canadian opportunities and interests have the greatest potential for growth. The markets so identified ranged across the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East.
FREE TRADE AND INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT AGREEMENTS
Pursuant to the CCS, Canada has been aggressively pursuing free trade and international investment agreements with strategic countries. The Canada – Panama Free Trade Agreement came into force in April 2013, the Canada – European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is rumored to be finalized within days, and the Canada – India Free Trade Agreement is in its eighth round of negotiations.
Other recent developments of note include the conclusion of negotiations on foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with Serbia and Côte d'Ivoire, and Canada's involvement in the 19th round of negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
COMMITMENT TO TRADE IN THRONE SPEECH
The Governor General confirmed in his speech that negotiations with respect to CETA, which was said to have the potential to create 80,000 new jobs for Canadians, would soon be completed. The Governor General also pointed to Canada's negotiations with the TPP, Japan, Korea and India as proof of the government's commitment to expanding trade in emerging markets.
Continued implementation of the Beyond the Border and Regulatory Cooperation Action Plans, according to which Canada and the U.S. agreed to perimeter security and economic competitiveness and regulatory co-operation, was also singled out by the Governor General as one of the government's trade priorities.
Finally, the Governor General indicated that the government would be launching a comprehensive new plan to assist Canadian businesses expand abroad, although no further details about that program are available at this time.
POSSIBLE CONCLUSION OF CANADA – EU COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC AND TRADE AGREEMENT
While no specifics were provided in the Speech from the Throne, it appears that Canada and the EU may have concluded their long-awaited CETA after press reports stating that agreement has been reached on the level of additional market access for EU cheese.
Specifically, it has been reported that Canada will increase the quantity of imported cheese it will permit into Canada free of punitive tariffs to 37,000 tonnes, and that the EU's share more than doubles from 13,000 to 30,000 tonnes.
The Throne Speech confirms that the government continues to view the promotion of international trade as a high priority. The conclusion of the CETA will allow Canada to focus on other bilateral agreements, such as with India and Japan, and also on the TPP negotiations. In such a period of intense activity, companies that rely on imports and/or exports in pursuing or growing their business should monitor developments carefully and insert themselves into the process for best results, or retain the services of an experienced trade lawyer or consultant for guidance and to ensure all benefits of such trade agreements are being enjoyed.