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CANADA’s Pacific seaboard is benefiting from trade agreements despite the current global tensions, according to British Columbia minister Bruce Ralston.
“I think we all recognise these days that there is turbulence in international trade relations, to put it mildly,” Mr Ralston said at the launch of the Cargo Logistics Canada Expo + Conference in Vancouver. “We need to focus even more on trade diversification. The federal government has worked to develop new trade agreements with markets around the world.”
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, Canada’s trade agreement signed with the European Union in late 2017, was seeing positive results already, he said.
“Some of the recent statistics on volumes out of the port of Montreal, and even from Vancouver, destined for Europe, show that that increasingly manufacturers and exporters are aware of the trade opportunities in Europe,” said the minister for jobs, trade and technology.
“South of the border, we signed the Canada, US, Mexico agreement, the new North American Free Trade Agreement. This is an important step as the agreement reaches the ratification stage in each country.”
Canada is also in talks with the Mercosur nations in South America and the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for the Transpacific Partnership is now in force.
“Canada, and British Columbia in particular as the Pacific-facing province of Canada, will be gaining improved access to key markets such as Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam.”
Vancouver and the British Columbia government were keen to capitalise on those new markets, Mr Ralston said.
“Every $1m exported is responsible for four jobs, with two additional jobs in the supplier industries,” he said. “The multiplier effect is pretty clear. Our calculation is, that was responsible for 173,000 jobs in British Columbia in 2017 and 86,000 jobs in supplier industries.”
But to increase exports required an additional emphasis on transport infrastructure, he added.
“One can see first-hand the need for upgraded transportation infrastructure. It is not simply the road network; transportation by rail and water are also critical pieces that must be integrated and expanded for effective movement of goods.”
He added: “Time is money, and ships waiting out in the harbour and people waiting for railcars to move their goods mean additional charges. That is something that needs to be tackled.”
With thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of gross domestic product dependent on trade and transportation, infrastructure and rail improvements across the country were vital for developing trade, he said.
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February, 12 2019