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June 10 — Canada's negotiation of a strategic partnership with the Pacific Alliance gives it an advantage over other observers to the trading bloc, including the U.S., a Canadian government official said June 9.
The June 8 joint declaration with the bloc, composed of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, gives Canada a “first mover” advantage over the other 41 observer countries. The action establishes the agreement as a model for other countries to follow, Alex Lawrence, spokesman for International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail.
“The partnership will move us towards deeper economic and people-to-people linkages with the wider Latin American region,” Lawrence said.
In addition, Canada also will benefit from a closer linkage with the trade bloc because one of its top priorities is to improve trade and economic integration with other member countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, he said.
“This provides Canada a further avenue to develop a wider set of multilateral relationships across the Pacific region as we look to diversify our trading partners and focus on high-growth global regions,” he said.
The joint declaration makes Canada the first observer country to expand its relationship with the Pacific Alliance, formalizing Canada's relationship with the group and providing a framework for broader collaboration, Freeland said June 8 in a statement after signing the declaration in Mexico City.
“Canada has supported the Pacific Alliance since its inception, as well as its collaborative approach to promoting trade and investment,” Freeland said in a statement. “Together, we will continue to bring prosperity to the region.”
The strategic partnership will allow development of concrete initiatives for companies in Canada and the alliance's member countries, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, Global Affairs Canada said June 8.
Other areas for increased collaboration include trade facilitation and promotion, education and training, science, technology and innovation, responsible natural resource development, corporate social responsibility and the environment, the department said in a background document.
Officials will work over the next few months to identify opportunities in those areas, and Freeland and Canada's ambassadors to the Pacific Alliance member countries will hold discussions at a June 17 event in Toronto hosted by the Canadian Council of the Americas, Global Affairs Canada said.
Canada in November 2012 became the first non-Latin American country accepted as an observer with the Pacific Alliance, which was formed in 2011. Canada also has bilateral free trade agreements with each country.
Canada's merchandise trade with the four countries totaled C$46.2 billion ($36.0 billion) in 2015, about 70 percent of Canada's two-way trade with Latin America.
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