Thursday, February 24, 2011


This is welcome news and log overdue. Hopefully, there will be a strong immigration component for temporary entry of business persons as in otter trade agreements such as NAFTA,  the Canada- Chile Free Trade Agreement, the Canada- Peru Free Trade Agreement and the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Canada to engage in free-trade talks with Japan

By Darah Hansen, Vancouver Sun
February 23, 2011

VANCOUVER — Japan and Canada have agreed to jointly study the potential benefits of negotiating a “broad and ambitious” free-trade agreement, federal Trade Minister Peter Van Loan announced today.

“We’ve always thought that Canada should be at the top of a Japanese free-trade agenda,” Van Loan told reporters gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Japan is the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China when measured by Gross Domestic Product. It’s also Canada’s largest source of job-creating investment from Asia as well as our fourth-largest merchandise export market, with exports totalling an estimated $9.2 billion in 2010.

Van Loan also noted the strong “people-to-people” ties between countries as a result of more than a century of Japanese immigration to Canada.

“Canada is proud of its partnership and friendship with the people and government of Japan,” he said.

Joining Van Loan for the announcement was Stockwell Day, Treasury Board president and Minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.

With a busy Burrard Inlet as a backdrop, Day said British Columbia’s ports, from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, represent a three-day advantage to Japan’s shipping companies over ports in California — a critical trade factor he hopes Japan will keep in mind.

“When those containers arrive here ... the dwell time is less than 24 hours because of the efficiency of the ports,” he said.

Existing road and rail infrastructure then allow products to move quickly across North America, reaching centres such as Chicago or Omaha in about 100 hours.

“These are huge and significant advantages that we offer through the Asia-Pacific gateway,” he said.

Day said B.C.’s forestry, manufacturing and agricultural industries also stand to gain from a trade deal with Japan.

“What it means at the end of the day, bottom line, is more jobs, more economic prosperity for Canada if we succeed,” said Van Loan.

Today’s announcement marks the first step in what could be a lengthy negotiation process with Japan, traditionally one of the more isolationist economies.

“These things don’t happen overnight,” Van Loan said.

But Yuen Pau Woo, head of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, said the significance of Japan’s willingness to talk shouldn’t be underestimated.

An agreement between the two countries would send a strong signal to the rest of Asia that Canada is willing to forge more deals, he said, adding, “This is the beginning of a trend for trade arrangements with Asia and a deeper commercial engagement between Canadian and Asia.”

Since 20006, the Harper government has signed free-trade deals with eight countries, including Colombia, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The government is also pursuing negotiations with some 50 other countries.

Van Loan said an initial study between Canada and the European Union showed a potential $12-billion annual benefit to the Canadian economy, while a deal with India would bring in an estimated $6 to $15 billion a year.

“You’re talking very significant job benefits, very significant job growth,” he said.

Van Loan said any new trade deals are unlikely to change Canada’s relationship with the U.S., which remains our principal trading partner.

But Day said opening trade doors with other nations will give Canada an advantage should the U.S. market weaken.

“The fact that we have been able to expand opportunities into other markets gives us a greater sense of comfort and also capability,” he said.