Canada Bolsters Its Latin America Trade

Looking south, the Canadian government has lately signed two free trade agreements and is exploring a third.

In late May, Canada signed free trade, labor cooperation and environment cooperation agreements with Peru. In regard to commerce, as soon as the free trade agreement (FTA) is approved, Peru will eliminate tariffs on 95% of current Canadian exports. Remaining tariffs will be eliminated over a five- to ten-year period. Products to receive duty-free access to Peru include wheat, barley, lentils, peas and selected boneless beef cuts, as well as a variety of paper products, machinery and equipment.

For its part, immediately upon implementation of the FTA, Canada will immediately eliminate 97% percent of its tariffs on Peruvian imports with the remainder to be eliminated over a three- or seven-year period, with the exception of over-quota tariffs on dairy, poultry, eggs and refined sugar, which are excluded from tariff reductions. For refined sugar, a tariff-rate quota will apply. Two-way trade between the two nations was $2.45 billion in 2007, with Canadian investment in Peru estimated at $1.8 billion.

In early June, the Canadian government announced the conclusion of free trade agreements with Colombia. Trade between the countries in 2007 was $1.14 billion with Canadian investment in the country at $739 million.

“The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to open up opportunities for Canadian business in the Americas and around the world,” claimed David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and Vancouver-Whistler Olympics. “The free trade agreement will expand Canada-Colombia trade and investment, and will help solidify ongoing efforts by the Government of Colombia to create a more prosperous, equitable and secure democracy.”

As the government explains, under Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy, it is working “to advance the country’s trade interests in key markets by opening up new opportunities for Canadian exporters, investors and innovators. The Strategy includes an aggressive agenda of trade negotiations that aims to secure competitive terms of access in markets that offer significant potential for our products and expertise.”

Canada entered into exploratory discussion with Panama on a FTA. The first meeting between the countries was in early May, with a second scheduled for early July. In 2007, bilateral trade between the countries was $115 million. Through the end of 2006, Canadian direct investment in Panama was $111 million. Through last year, Canada's greatest exports to Panama included pharmaceutical products, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, malt and barley, vegetables and meats. Imports from Panama included mineral fuels, fruits and nuts, fish and seafood, spices, coffees and teas, fats and oil products and wood products.

In addition to these recent moves within this hemisphere, earlier this year Canada signed its first FTA in six years. It was with the European Free Trade Association, consisting of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The agreement has been tabled in the Canadian House of Commons where it must rest for 21 days before ratification. Tabling of all FTAs is required under a new governmental policy.

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