Originally published in Blakes Bulletin on
International Trade, June 2008
On June 11, 2008, a Joint Action Plan between Canada and
France was signed by the Honourable David Emerson,
Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International
Trade, and his counterpart, Christine Legard, France's
Minister of Economy, Industry and Employment. The Canada-France
Joint Action Plan represents a commitment over the next two
years towards further liberalizing trade and investment between
the two nations, and will potentially open the door to further
trade deals between Canada and the European Union (EU).
The focus of the Canada-France Joint Action Plan will be to
ensure that the economies of both countries play a key role in
global business value chains. Under the Plan, the countries
will adopt a collaborative approach to further enhancing
economic relations, with a view to overcoming challenges to
competitiveness and economic growth. The three primary
objectives of the Plan are to:
Strengthen co-operation in areas related to
competitiveness, innovation, and science and technology
Support a closer economic partnership between Canada and
the EU, and
Assist in the development of small and medium-sized
enterprises in the Canada and EU markets.
The Plan will focus on certain key sectors including energy,
aeronautics, information and communications technologies, life
sciences, and the environment.
France and Canada are longstanding trading partners. Having
one of the world's largest economies, France is
Canada's ninth largest trading partner and its fourth
largest in Europe. Canada's top imports from France are
medicaments, wines, beauty products and perfumes. Among other
things, France relies on Canada for its exports of uranium,
airplane and helicopter parts, and vaccines. Statistics
indicate that by the end of 2007, the bilateral merchandise
trade between Canada and France reached a record level of
France is also a significant foreign direct investor in
Canada, accounting for approximately $17.4-billion in
investment stock in 2007. Likewise, Canadian investors hold a
significant amount of investment stock in France, comprising
Already in 2008, the Canadian Government has demonstrated
significant strides in terms of deepening Canada's
access to global markets and networks through a robust
international negotiations agenda. With the WTO multilateral
trade negotiations moving at a slow pace, Canada has joined
other countries in seeking to enter into bilateral and regional
free trade agreements to expand opportunities available to
traders. Prime examples of this momentum include the recently
concluded agreements with Colombia, Peru, and the European Free
Trade Association, comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,
and Switzerland. The Canada-France Joint Action Plan is another
such example, one of particular importance as a gateway to
further negotiations with the EU. On July 1, 2008, France will
assume the Presidency of the EU Council, and as such, will take
a leadership role in the Canada-EU Summit to be held in
Montréal this October.
In January 2009, representatives of Canada and France will
conduct a mid-term review of the implementation of the Joint
Action Plan. A full assessment of the results achieved through
the Joint Action Plan will be 'first on the
agenda' at the 16th Canada-France Economic Meeting,
which will be held in Canada at the end of 2009.
Canadian importers, exporters, and investors will want to
stay apprised of developments under the Joint Action Plan, and
other such agreements, in order to take advantage of the new
opportunities further trade liberalization will bring.
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