Feds launch panel to help develop its global commerce strategy
OTTAWA — The Harper government has named a group of eminent business
leaders to an advisory panel that will help craft a new global
commerce strategy to be released next year.
International Trade Minister Ed Fast, in a speech Tuesday to the
Canadian Chamber of Commerce, announced the Conservative government's
updated commerce strategy will guide Canada's trade priorities for the
coming years, as Ottawa looks to negotiate or finalize free-trade and
investment deals with the European Union, India, China and the Trans-
Pacific Partnership bloc of Asia-Pacific nations.
But as the Conservatives trumpet an ambitious new trade plan, members of
its own advisory committee have warned the government is protecting an
antiquated supply management system that is hurting the economy.
The government's new global commerce strategy, expected to be ready in
2013, will focus Canada's efforts on five key themes: pursuing deeper
trade ties and improving access to priority markets; bolstering the trade
commissioner service — especially in burgeoning markets like China, India
and Brazil, improving access to capital, connecting small and medium-sized
enterprises with technological improvements, and attracting the necessary
Fast unveiled a panel of 10 Canadian business and academic leaders to
guide the government on its new trade plan.
The advisory panel includes:
- Catherine Swift, president, Canadian Federation of Independent
- Paul Reynolds, CEO, Canaccord Financial;
- Kathleen Sullivan, executive director, Canadian Agri-Food Trade
- Perrin Beatty, CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce;
- John Manley, CEO, Canadian Council of Chief Executives;
- Murad Al-Katib, president, Alliance Grain Traders;
- Jayson Myers, president, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters;
- Brian Ferguson, CEO, Cenovus Energy;
- Serge Godin, founder, CGI Group; and
- Indira Samarasekera, president, University of Alberta,
Fast said the Untied States will always be Canada's largest and most
important trading partner, but the government must look to expand the
country's export markets in an increasingly global economy.
"Our government is also committed to seeking out new markets and
opportunities for Canadian businesses and investors far beyond North
America," Fast said in his speech to the chamber of commerce, on its
international trade day.
"We cannot rely on one market alone for our goods, services, products and
With Ottawa fully engaged in several major bilateral trade
negotiations as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, business
leaders had high hopes the Tories might signal in the March budget
they're willing to retreat on their defence of a supply-management
system that protects dairy and poultry farmers and forces consumers to pay
Manley, with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, has repeatedly said
the government should begin planning for a transition from supply
management. He recently told Postmedia News it's "very much in the
national interest" to grow out of the antiquated supply management system
that "has become an impediment to our expanding trade interests in our
ownregion and elsewhere."
The 40-year-old Canadian supply-management system protects fewer than
20,000 dairy and poultry farmers, handing them production quotas and
shielding them with a tariff wall in a system that ultimately forces
Canadians to pay inflated prices for products like milk, cheese, chicken
Manley and others on the advisory panel have cautioned that supply
management remains an obstacle to Canada joining the TPP, which is
viewed by many observers as potentially surpassing the North American Free
Trade Agreement in economic importance.
It's believed TPP members, such as the United States, Australia and
New Zealand,have been blocking Canada's entry into the trade group
because of their concerns with supply management.