Tories steady on trade portfolio: One minister who held on to his deck chair during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet shuffle yesterday, was Ed Fast, a B.C. MP who has overseen the international trade portfolio since 2011. Canadian exporters are watching Fast, a lawyer who has been immersed in a difficult free trade negotiation with the European Union, CTV News reported late last week.
“Last week, EU ambassador Matthias Brinkmann blamed Canada for the protracted nature of the talks that have involved several missed deadlines, including during last month’s G8 summit in Ireland. The statement was seen as an effort by Europe to apply pressure on Canada at a time when the EU is shifting its attention and resources to the higher-stakes talks with the U.S., which got underway this week.”
British invasion: According to The Independent, a new study out this week shows that British SMEs have tapped into fertile markets in the Eurozone over the past two years, despite the continent’s persistent recession and the sovereign debt crises hovering over countries like Greece and Spain. As Canada closes in on an EU trade deal, the message for Canadian SMEs is that they should begin looking at opportunities now, before the British invasion gains too much momentum.
“A report by venture capital firm Albion Ventures, which is based on interviews with 450 SMEs, reveals that more than half have tried to move into new markets over the past two years. On a UK-wide basis, that would suggest 2.5 million SMEs have tried their hand at exporting, or exporting to new countries [in the Eurozone]. Many have been successful. The majority of these SMEs told Albion they hadn’t experienced major difficulties tapping into new markets.”
Pacific rim mega-deal: Negotiators are working hard towards the conclusion of an ultra-complicated Trans Pacific Partnership—a proposed hemispheric free trade zone that could unlock Asian markets for Canadian and U.S. firms, including export-minded SMEs. However, a growing number of environmental advocacy groups are raising concerns that the deal may undercut national environmental regulations, reports the Huffington Post.
“[O]pponents of the TPP say it would harm our planet’s environment, subverting climate change measures and regulation of mining, land use, and biotechnology. The Pacific Rim is an area of great significance from an environmental perspective. It includes Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, home to more than 11,000 species. It includes Peru and its Amazon Rainforest—one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth.”