Canada Strengthens Ties with AmericasPublished Posted on | By TZTA News
February 22, 2013 – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and the Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), today concluded their parallel visits to Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Over the past week, the two ministers have met with high-level government representatives in a total of nine different countries throughout the region. The ministers also met with local representatives of Canadian business communities to discuss trade relations in the hemisphere, opportunities afforded by current trade agreements and how Canadaâs participation in the Pacific Alliance will help to create jobs, growth and economic prosperity for Canadians.
Through their engagement in the Americas, Baird and Minister Ablonczy strengthened ties in the region and advanced Canadian leadership on key hemispheric issues, including democratic governance and respect for human rights. The ministers also underscored Canadaâs interest in deepening trade cooperation through meetings with the four member nations of the emerging Pacific Alliance deep integration initiative. By forging strong trade relationships, the Harper government is creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians.
âCanada is committed to increasing economic opportunity, strengthening security and safeguarding freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law from the Arctic to the Antarctic and beyond,â said Baird. âBy consistently working with our friends in the region, we are demonstrating that Canada is a long-term partner of choice in the Americas and a reliable source of strength in our shared efforts to build a future for our peoples.â
âMeeting face-to-face with many of our counterparts, as we have over the past week, has given us the opportunity to have frank discussions and share ideas to bring our countries closer,â said Minister Ablonczy. âCanada is committed to playing an active role in the Pacific Alliance. We place great value on our relationships with Pacific Alliance member nations, and we are committed to working with them to build a more prosperous, secure and democratic hemisphere.â
In October 2012, Canada achieved observer status in the alliance, a grouping of four of Latin Americaâs fastest-growing economies: Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. The alliance was launched in April 2011 to facilitate the free movement of goods, services, capital and people among member countries and to strengthen trade and investment ties with Asia.
Canada has deep, long-standing relationships and comprehensive bilateral free trade agreements with each of the four countries in the alliance. In 2011, the countries of the alliance had a combined population of 207 million and accounted for 71 percent of Latin Americaâs exports and 34 percent of its GDP. Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and the four countries totalled $39 billion in 2012.
Baird met with his counterparts in Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Panama and the Dominican Republic, while Minister Ablonczyâs trip included stops in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile. On behalf of the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, Minister Ablonczy also announced Canadaâs support for international cooperation projects in Nicaragua and Colombia.