OTTAWA, ONTARIO – Peter Van Loan, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, called for increased focus on free and open trade on June 22, pointing to the Canada-United States relationship as an example of a free-trade success story. He delivered this message to the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada in advance of the G-8 and G-20 summits about to take place in Muskoka and Toronto.

“Canada believes that lasting economic recovery — not just in North America, but around the world — depends on free trade, not protectionism,” he said. “This is the message we will be delivering to our existing and future trade partners at the upcoming G-20 meeting.”

Van Loan highlighted Canada’s leadership in driving the free-trade agenda and opening markets to Canadian businesses and Canadian workers, pointing to the continuing economic recovery as proof that the plan is working.

“Our government’s aggressive free-trade agenda, coupled with decisive implementation of the Economic Action Plan, has generated results for Canada’s economic recovery,” Van Loan said. “Our commitment to free trade, to fighting protectionism and to opening doors to new opportunities continues to fuel our economy and create jobs for Canadians at home and abroad. The Canada-United States trade relationship is an example of how partners can benefit from opening their borders to trade.”

The North American Free Trade Agreement (N.A.F.T.A.) has contributed to significant growth in trade and foreign direct investment in North America. Merchandise trade among Canada, Mexico and the U.S. has doubled since the agreement came into force, reaching $798.5 billion in 2009. It is now one of the largest free-trade areas in the world, with some 448 million consumers.

While the Canada-U.S. trade relationship remains by far Canada’s most significant, Canada is moving to secure access to key markets around the world. In less than four years, it has built on the success of N.A.F.T.A. by concluding new free-trade agreements with Colombia, Peru, Jordan, Panama and the European Free Trade Association: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.