Canada is moving closer to reaching a trade agreement with the European Union as the two sides started a new round of talks Monday, a Canadian official said.
The five-day 9th round of Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiations would lead Canada and the EU to a deal that would boost the bilateral trade by 20 percent and create prosperity and opportunities for Canadian businesses, workers and their families, said Trade Minister Ed Fast.
"With trade accounting for over 60 percent of our annual GDP, and with one in five Canadian jobs dependent on trade, a Canada-EU trade agreement is a key part of our government's job-creating, pro-trade plan," he said.
During the eight pervious rounds of talks since October 2009, the two sides have made significant progress in the areas of goods, services, investment and government procurement, according to him.
Fast said the Canada-EU trade agreement would bring Canada an annual increase of 12 billion Canadian dollars (11.76 billion U.S. dollars) to its economy, and a growth of 1,000 Canadian dollars (980.40 U.S. dollars) to the average family's income and almost 80,000 new jobs.
According to Statistics Canada, the EU, as an integrated block, represents Canada's second largest trading partner in goods and services. Bilateral trade in the two fields reached a total of 104.5 billion Canadian dollars (102.4 billion U.S. dollars) last year.
The EU is also the second largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Canada, with the stock of FDI amounting to 146.9 billion Canadian dollars (144 billion U.S. dollars) at the end of 2010.
In less than six years, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries and is involved in ongoing negotiations with many others.