Canada must regain lead in international trade talks: Perrin Beatty

by Canadian Shipper

It’s high time the Canadian government took the initiative in ensuring international trade rules are shaped in the country’s best interest, says Perrin Beatty, President & CEO, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

Beatty’s comments were in response to the announcement that the Canadian government will participate in a new round of WTO negotiations aimed at opening international markets for services exporters.

Beatty described the negotiating priorities that International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew has set forth as "a positive first step" towards expanding export opportunities for Canadians and added that Canada now needs a concerted effort by its negotiators and strong support from Canadian exporters to ensure the country is at the forefront of the negotiations, not playing catch-up to rules that will otherwise be set by the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Beatty said service providers have the most to gain by rules that provide access to new countries around the world. Services account for approximately two-thirds of Canada’s GDP, but for only 10% of Canadian exports.

He added that discriminatory regulations, expensive requirements to establish local offices, and arduous restrictions on business travel in foreign markets have kept many world-class Canadian services companies out of world markets.

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has members representing every sector of Canada’s manufacturing and exporting economy. Its members account for 75% of the Canadian industrial production and over 90% of Canada’s exports of goods and services.

In related trade issues, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Mike Moore has confirmed his vow that that China will become a WTO member this year.

Moore stressed that China, although not yet a member, has made enormous contributions to the whole world by moving to a rules-based trade system.

The WTO chief also said that hopes the fourth WTO ministerial conference to be held in November would launch a new round of global trade talks. He stressed that the economic slowdown in the United States and stagnancy in Japan were making the launch of a new round more necessary than a year ago and he called for further liberalization of trade.

Moore cited statistics by organizations including the World Bank as saying that tariff and non-tariff barriers imposed by developed countries to imports from developing countries are still high. Three quarters of benefits from further liberalization of manufactured products would go to developing countries.

The 140 WTO members have begun to prepare the documents to be submitted to the ministerial conference.

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