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Last Updated:[12-11-2010 01:21:03 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Canadian Minister Discounts Asian Trade Ties

tradenews In a most stunning manner international trade minister of Canada informed the cabinet that the country’s economic future remained mostly tied to the US — not to Asia or emerging economies. A position completely incongruous to the one publicly stated in recent years by the Canadian government as well as trade experts that future growth could only be ensured by aligning with Asian markets.

Peter Van Loan said on Monday that he had proof that established trading partners like the US and Europe, while currently sluggish, would remain Canada’s economic bread and butter.

The minister’s utterances come after Canada, in recent times, has initiated several trade pacts with China, India, S Korea and the Middle East and North Africa region. Moreover, at a time, the government is defending its stance on the EU-Canada FTA, which is criticized as a Canadian job slayer estimated at 150,000.

In contrast, during a recent South Korean tour, the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper reportedly said Canada’s trading future lay in the burgeoning economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

Van Loan’s argument of strengthening ties with traditional trade partners was largely drawn on the basis of current trade statistics sans projections. Canada’s two-way trade with the US is about $450bn whereas with China it is just $50bn in 2009. But the minister gave little care to the deteriorating trade data from both the US and Europe while emerging economies surged ahead.

Nevertheless, Van Loan claimed a tiny jump in activity in the US or Europe meant far more to the Canadian economy than even a much larger increase in developing markets. He further added “The other markets are important and we are indeed pursuing those. But we can’t ignore the fact that we still have enormous gains that we can make in those familiar markets and we have to tend to those existing relationships first and foremost.”

It should be recalled, Harper had said “We have every reason to believe that the markets in the United States and Europe . . . will probably experience continued slower growth for some time to come. So the great opportunity is obviously in the Asia-Pacific region.” At a glance, it is not clear why the trade minister has opposing views to that of his prime minister especially when the whole world projects this century belongs to Asian renaissance.

By Jose Roy

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