Canada signs free trade deal with Panama

Canada will proceed with a flurry of free-trade deals because the dream of one big global trade arrangement appears “stalled,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli after signing a free trade agreement in Panama City

Canada will proceed with a flurry of free-trade deals because the dream of one big global trade arrangement appears “stalled,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday. He made the remarks at a signing ceremony at the presidential palace in Panama, which became the eighth country to reach a free-trade agreement with the Harper government.

Canada exported a mere $128 million to Panama last year — but that country’s economy is growing at a blistering pace, with a 9.2 per cent increase last year despite the global recession.

The deal fits the step-by-step strategy now being pursued by the Harper government. That piecemeal approach will help fill the vacuum left by the apparent collapse of the Doha round of global trade talks at the World Trade Organization. Harper said he believes a similar conclusion may be motivating the European Union in seeking a free-trade deal with Canada.

Agreements with India, South Korea, among others, are in the works.

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