Canadian trade minister urges companies to think global

Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr says government is eyeing more opportunities for trade agreements

The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is signed, and Canada’s newest free trade agreement just weeks away from coming into force.

But the country’s minister of international trade diversification says now is not the time to ease off trade talks.

“We can’t stop with the signing of trade deals,” said Jim Carr.

The former energy minister told Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) members at Energy Forum 2018 that the government is currently engaged in various trade-related talks with China, Chile, Ukraine, Israel, the South American Pacific Alliance and Mercosur trading blocks, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“We want to sign an agreement with the southeast Asian nations,” said Carr, who was recently in Singapore discussing just that.

He also added that 73% of Canada’s exports head south of the border, and joked that in his view, government recently signed CUSMA – not USMCA – because its mandate is to put Canada first.

“We think that we can do better, I mean we have to do better,” said Carr of the need to diversify trade.

In that vein, he put out a call-to-action to Canadian businesses, urging them to think global. He likened free trade deals to bridges constructed between governments – ones that add little value if no one crosses them.

“That is our strategy. There is no business that will be too small to be a target for global expansion.”

Canada’s new export diversification strategy – included in the federal government’s fall economic update – targets 50% overseas export growth by 2025.

“Behind the bevy of popular acronyms – CUSMA, CETA, CPTPP – lies billions if not trillions of dollars in new opportunity for Canadians," said Carr. 

"This is only the beginning.”