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Ottawa, May 12, 2014 — In a report issued today, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce argues that free trade agreements are not enough to reverse Canada’s dismal trade performance over the past decade. Canada needs to take parallel steps to bolster trade promotion services and diplomatic support for companies abroad.

“International trade is one of the fastest and most effective ways for our businesses to grow, create jobs and contribute to the economy,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “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.”

Recent efforts to improve domestic competitiveness and sign new free trade agreements are helping. But these alone cannot address all the barriers companies face when entering a new business environment, or substitute for the need to build government-to-government relationships that open new opportunities.

The paper examines Canada’s lagging trade performance and the case for boosting trade promotion and economic diplomacy. Based on consultations with member companies and other stakeholders, it reviews what Canada is already doing in this area and recommends that the federal government take concrete steps to:

  • Integrate trade services and connect them to businesses
  • Put the business back in Canada’s global brand
  • Strengthen Canada’s diplomatic presence abroad
  • 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,” added Mr. Beatty. “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.”

Read our report.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing some 200, 000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. Follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.

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Émilie S. Potvin
Vice President, Public Relations & Stakeholder Engagement
Office: 613.238.4000 (231)
Cell: 613.797.1860