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International Trade Minister to lead trade mission to Africa in early 2013Wednesday, October 17, 2012 > 10:30:28
Deeper trade and investment ties with Africa a key priority, Minister Fast says
October 16, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that he will lead a trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria in early 2013. He will be accompanied by Canadian companies in the extractive and infrastructure sectors. Minister Fast made the announcement during a speech at an event celebrating the Canadian Council on Africa's 10th anniversary.
"With Africa one of the fastest-growing economic regions in the world, our government is committed to opening new markets and creating new opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses throughout the continent," said Minister Fast. "Canadian companies that succeed in international markets also create good jobs and greater prosperity here at home."
Since being appointed to the international trade portfolio, Minister Fast has led a number of trade missions, including to fast-growing Brazil, Russia, India and China, also known as the "BRIC" economies. These trade missions are part of the Harper government's commitment to opening new markets to increase Canadian exports. Most recently, the Minister led a trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Jordan, accompanied by Canadian businesses and organizations in the education, health care and infrastructure fields.
Canada's numerous trade and investment initiatives in Africa include negotiations toward a free trade agreement with Morocco and multiple foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs) with African countries, such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Tunisia and Zambia. A FIPA has just been concluded with Senegal. Once in force, these FIPAs will provide the stable, transparent and predictable environment necessary to give Canadian businesses greater confidence.
"More and more African economies are embracing trade and investment as an engine for growth and poverty reduction," said Minister Fast. "I am pleased to be leading a trade mission to a region where world-class Canadian companies are creating jobs and prosperity and proving the win-win benefits of closer economic ties."
Between 1995 and 2010, annual average GDP growth in Africa was 4.3 percent a year, making the continent one of the fastest-growing regions of the world. Solid economic growth is expected to continue this year and next. Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Ghana reached $321 million in 2011, a 61-percent increase over 2010. In 2011, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Nigeria totalled over $2.7 billion, up 44 percent since 2010 and 300 percent since 2009; Nigeria is Canada's largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
Minister Fast was speaking during the Canadian Council on Africa's Canada-Africa Symposium: Looking Forward, held today in Ottawa. Established in 2002, the Canadian Council on Africa is the only pan-Canadian organization dedicated to the promotion of trade and investment linkages with Africa.