OTTAWA—Free trade agreements aren’t enough to bolster Canada’s “dismal trade performance over the past decade,” claims a report issued by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
According to the national business association, trade deals like the ones the federal government recently signed with the European Union (EU) and South Korea are not enough to support business growth, and the Conservatives need to take “parallel steps” and support companies working internationally.
“International trade is one of the fastest and most effective ways for our businesses to grow, create jobs and contribute to the economy,” chamber president and CEO Perrin Beatty said in a statement.
“But the facts show that our companies are increasingly reluctant to export and invest abroad, especially with emerging markets where the bulk of future growth will come from.”
While the chamber lauded the recently-signed trade deals, it said they are not enough to “address all the barriers” firms face when breaking into new business environments.
The deals also don’t substitute for the need for Ottawa to build government-to-government relationships abroad that help open new opportunities.
Based on consultations with members, the chamber is recommending the government take a number of steps to help business, including integrate trade services and connect them to businesses; put the business back in Canada’s global brand; strengthen Canada’s diplomatic presence abroad; and incorporate the private sector into Canada’s international aid strategy.
“It’s not so much about changing what we do, but doing more of it and learning from others how to do it better,” Beatty continued.
“The government’s Global Markets Action Plan is a step in the right direction, but we need to do more than just shuffle the same deck of cards. We’re playing a new game now.”