Canadian businesses have thrown their support behind the Canadian government's decision to make free trade deals with Jordan and Panama.
Canadian International Trade Minister Ed Fast introduced a law into Canada's House of Commons Tuesday to implement the new free trade agreements.
"Free-trade agreements with Jordan and Panama are a key part of our government's job-creating, pro-trade plan to protect and increase the prosperity of hard-working Canadians," Fast said.
The deals were made as part of a push by Canada to make individual trade deals after the collapse of the Doha round of world free trade talks. Canada now has trade deals with most western hemisphere states and is working on agreements with India and the European Union.
Since coming to power in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has signed free trade deals with Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The EU deal is expected to be completed by next spring, although it may founder unless an agreement can be reached on European Union agricultural subsidies and Canadian support for dairy, poultry and egg farmers.
Jayson Myers, president of the Canadian Manufactures and Exports Association, was at Tuesday's announcement.
"The implementation of these agreements will improve the access to two growth markets for Canadian goods, services and investment at a time when Canadian manufacturers and exporters are focusing on finding new customers and business opportunities around the world," Myers said.
"We urge Parliament to pass this legislation quickly -- this is especially critical in a context where our main trading partner, the United States, has implemented its trade agreement with Jordan last year and ratified its agreement with Panama last month."
Myers also said he supports the government's intention to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. He said it's important Canada be at the negotiating table for what is shaping up to become a major trade deal opening up markets in the Asia Pacific region.
"We welcome the government's commitment to open markets through bilateral and regional trade agreements, and hope Canada will soon be able to formally join the TPP negotiations. Assuming Canada does join these negotiations, CME will work closely with the government to ensure the trade agreement provides a net economic benefit to Canadian manufacturers and exporters," he said.
In 2010, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Panama stood at 213.7 million Canadian dollars (about 211.4 million U.S. dollars). Trade between Canada and Jordan reached 86 million Canadian dollars that year.
The deal with Panama helps protect Canadian investments in that country. As well, Canadian companies will now be able to bid on Panamanian government procurements, including the 5.4 billion Canadian dollars expansion of the Panama Canal. (1 U.S. dollar = 1. 0108004 Canadian dollars)