O T T A W A – From October 26th to November 3rd, I had the honour and privilege of leading a delegation of members from the International Trade Committee in my role as Chair, to Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. I am always proud to represent our great country abroad and this time was no different.
The main goal of our trip was to study and promote the possibility of a comprehensive and high-level economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Japan. I am happy to report to Yellowhead, and all Canadians, that the Japanese appear to share the high level of ambition that this Government has towards reaching such an agreement.
This agreement would be a major step forward for numerous areas of Canadian business with the immense opportunities it could open up and facilitate. Canada has strong and growing ties in the Asian-Pacific region and Japan is a major global economic power with significant influence as the world’s third largest economy. In 2011, Japan was Canada’s fifth largest partner in two-way merchandise trade totalling $23.7 billion. Alberta accounted for 17.4% of all exports to Japan, and the potential to grow this is immense. An EPA with Japan would lead to GDP gains between $3.8 billion and $9.0 billion for Canada. Needless to say, this is why your Government is aggressively pursuing an EPA as part of our ambitious pro-trade plan.
The trip had a full schedule of meetings with numerous major players and stakeholders with varying perspectives on the potential EPA. I would like to thank our Ambassador Jonathan Fried and embassy staff for a wonderfully planned and diverse program. This facilitated what I would deem to be a tremendously successful trip. It is great to see the wonderful work Canadians are doing overseas for the benefit of our country.
While there, the committee met with numerous main players and stakeholders in the negotiations. We had high level meetings with their Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), as well as with key Japanese Parliament (Diet) members.
We also held meetings with senior executives of major corporations and investors in Japan such as Honda and others with significant Canadian business interests across varying sectors. Some of the sectors covered in these meetings that resonate and drive the economy in Yellowhead included forestry, energy, agriculture, coal and tourism where we held in depth discussions on how this EPA would enhance opportunities for our local businesses. Furthermore we had the pleasure of attending the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ) EPA Symposium.
The diverse meetings we had gave us an in-depth understanding of both Japanese political perspectives and the sectors that would be impacted by such an agreement. This will allow for informed recommendations when the International Trade committee tables its report on an EPA with Japan in February.
Trade currently accounts for 63% of Canada’s GDP and one in five Canadian jobs, thus its importance cannot be underestimated. Deepening Canada’s trade and investment ties with large, dynamic economies like Japan is a crucial part of your government’s top priority of creating jobs and economic growth by expanding markets for Canadian businesses.
I will continue to work hard in my role as Chair of the International Trade Committee to ensure that your Government delivers results for the people of Yellowhead and all Canadians through agreements such as this one.
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