Fast says trade more important than ever

OTTAWA — Trade Minister Ed Fast says a comprehensive world trade deal is unlikely for some time and that Canada must compensate by striking new trade deals on its own.

OTTAWA — Trade Minister Ed Fast says a comprehensive world trade deal is unlikely for some time and that Canada must compensate by striking new trade deals on its own.

The minister says in his view there will be no progress on the Doha round trade negotiations for some years.

Given that Canada is depending on exports, Fast says his government is redoubling efforts to ink deals with the European Union and to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, as well as opening markets in China, India, Brazil and Japan.

The minister, who made the remarks at a business luncheon organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, says he has enlisted a panel of experts to advise him on the next phase of the government’s global commerce strategy.

The panellists include former cabinet ministers John Manley and Perrin Beatty, who head the country’s two largest business lobby groups, Jayson Myers of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Catherine Swift, who represents small firms, several company executives, and University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera.

Fast says he wants to announce a new global commerce strategy sometime next year.

While speaking at the chamber’s event, Fast did not offer any updates about the state of negotiations with the EU or whether Canada is any closer to joining the TPP grouping.

Entry into TPP is being currently blocked by the U.S., Australia and New Zealand over what is seen as Canada’s reluctance to open up dairy and poultry to foreign competition, among other issues.

The Doha round was launched in Qatar’s capital in 2001 with the intention of boosting global trade. Disagreements between major trading nations such as Brazil, China and the United States have since paralyzed the talks.