By Mohsin Abbas/ Publisher, The Milton Reporter
SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile needs to make trade real for its people in order to stay aligned with globalization, stressed François-Philippe Champagne as he pushed Canada’s progressive trade agenda in Santiago last week.
“Canada and Chile may be at opposite ends of the American continent, but we are both Pacific nations resisting the tide of protectionism. We know that our prosperity lies not in isolation but in openness and the pursuit of free trade between nations,” Champagne said before he flew to Peru after attending the 20th anniversary of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement.
Mr. Champagne, who is the Minister for International Trade of Canada, was addressing a gathering of Chilean and Canadian ministers, officials and business community. “The common values that led to our trade agreement have promoted not only our prosperity but a fruitful and growing relationship,” the minister said on the occasion.
This was Mr. Champagne’s first visit to Chile as the minister. He recognized and thanked Chile’s ex-president Frei Ruiz-Tagle for his role in putting this agreement in place as president of Chile in 1997.
He also acknowledged the contribution of Eduardo Aninat, who was the Minister of Finance responsible for the negotiation of the agreement with his Canadian counterpart Roy MacLaren. Mr. Aninat now sits on Scotiabank’s board of directors.
As he thanked the founder of the Canada-Chile Chamber of Commerce for his vision – Canada’s first free trade agreement with any country in Central or South America – Mr. Champagne said: “We have in Chile a partner committed to a rules-based, fair trading environment and a progressive and open trade agenda.“
The common values that led to our trade agreement have promoted not only our prosperity but a fruitful and growing relationship.
“But if we fail in making trade real for people, we lose the social license necessary to make the deals we forged together 20 years ago,” the Canadian feared while highlighting the need of following progressive trade agenda.
As economic growth in the developed world has essentially flat-lined, Canada is pursuing a progressive trade agenda with our partners at home and around the world.
Progressive trade supports a more inclusive trade policymaking process to promote the international ambitions of Canadian SMEs and address inequalities at all levels. It helps ensure that all segments of society can take advantage of the opportunities that flow from trade and investment – with a particular focus on women, indigenous peoples, youth, and small and medium-sized businesses.
“This is not just the right thing to do. It’s also essential for economic growth and prosperity. SMEs, for example, are the dynamos of our economies and the lifeblood of our communities,” the minister detailed.
In Canada, SMEs account for virtually all Canadian businesses – and employ 90 percent of our private-sector workforce. But only a small percentage of these businesses export.
“Under our progressive or middle class trade agenda, we are putting their needs and aspirations, and those of all non-traditional business owners and entrepreneurs, front and centre to help them reach their full export potential,” he added.
Progressive trade also means being open and transparent, and maintaining an ongoing dialogue with civil society and a broad range of stakeholders. It also means ensuring that trade agreements include strong provisions in important areas such as workers’ rights, gender equality and environmental protection, and reinforce the continued right of governments to regulate in the public interest.
In short, it’s about efforts that help ensure international trade works for businesses and citizens alike.
To read more visit Santiago Times’ website