Monday, February 25, 2008

Your new opportunities in Latin America

Federal industry minister David Emerson spoke to the Canadian Council for the Americas (British Columbia chapter) in Vancouver on Friday to talk about Canada’s commitment to trade within the Americas.

Since neither the Industry department or Latin America get much ink these days, I found lots of interesting points in his speech. Here’s a sum-up:

* Prime Minister Harper has made re-engagement with our partners throughout the Americas a top priority.

* “Globalization is not going away. And there is nowhere to hide. We all have to get in the game, set a plan and give it all we’ve got. Anything short of that and we will be left in the dust of the many rapidly growing, highly competitive tigers.”

“ Within the Americas, we’ve witnessed more than a decade of dramatic economic reforms: from how businesses operate, and how they treat workers, to well-developed credit, and increasingly open and transparent regulatory processes.“

* “New ideas about trade are also taking hold. In country after country, old ideas of import substitution and protected domestic markets are being abandoned in favour of liberalized trade and increased linkages to the global economy.”

* Brazil is the world’s leading producer and exporter of ethanol. And it is one of the most sophisticated agriculture and agri-food producers in the world. “We can learn from their knowledge and innovation, and we are."

* Last year marked the fifth anniversary of the Canada-Costa Rica free-trade agreement — which has boosted two-way trade by 40%.

* “Throughout the Americas, we’re seeing the clear emergence of a strong, increasingly open and forward-looking region. One marked by solid economic growth and new commercial opportunities; by increased job creation and standards of living; and by falling inflation and levels of poverty.”

* Canada is “focusing on three core, interconnected areas where we believe we can make a difference and influence positive change throughout the region, namely governance, security and prosperity."

* Canada’s exports to Latin America (excluding Mexico) grew 15% to $6.7 billion last year, while imports totalled $13.6 billion. Export growth to Peru and Brazil was 14%; to Colombia, 29%; and to Chile, 62%.

* “To help our businesses and investors succeed in Latin American and Caribbean markets, we’re putting a new focus on getting more Canadian Trade Commissioners on the ground.”

* Canada recently concluded negotiations with Peru on a bilateral free trade agreement that will give Canadian exporters, service providers and investors access to Peru’s dynamic market.

* Later this year, Canada will host the Canada-CARICOM Summit to advance stronger relationships with countries in the region. And in May, Halifax will host the next meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank’s Board of Governors.

* Canada is committed to concluding a balanced free-trade deal with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. We are also negotiating FTAs with Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

Clearly, there’s a world of change going on in a part of our neighborhood that doesn't get much attention from the media. Should your company be looking into business opportunities down south?
You can read Emerson's full speech here.

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