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NEWS: Canada to take free trade message to the G20

Agence France-Presse reports that Trade Minister Peter Van Loan says that lasting economic recovery “depends on free trade. This is the message we will be delivering to our existing and future trade partners at the upcoming G-20 meeting.”

Van Loan says, “Historically, protection has caused economic slowdowns and freer trade has lead to economic growth, so that’s the most important reason in the global economic context for resisting protectionism.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said that the summits, “will be a tremendous opportunity… to advocate for open markets and trade opportunities…”

Perhaps to underscore the free trade message, he has invited Colombia’s outgoing president Alvaro Uribe to the G8 summit in Huntsville.

Despite human rights abuses in Colombia, the House of Commons and Senate have just passed the implementation act for the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

The G8, as well as the G5 countries of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, have already committed themselves to reaching an ‘ambitious and balanced’ conclusion to the Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations in 2010.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has stated, “Economic globalization, led by the rich countries and their corporations, and the notion of unlimited growth behind the WTO is killing the world. Policies and institutions that promote endless growth and trade must end. The only way out of the ecological crisis the world faces is a different way of living, where trade and the economy serve communities, not the other way around. Sustainable trade and economic policies must prevail.”

Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders has written that Canadian and European officials are hoping for “a major push” at the G8 summit in Huntsville for the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

We also oppose this agreement, which is promoted as bigger in scope than NAFTA. We have said that an agreement with the European Union would put pressure on provincial governments to privatize public services, including in areas such as water, transportation, and public health care. We are actively campaigning to stop this deal before negotiations can conclude in 2011.

Corporate representatives from G20 countries – under the umbrella of the B20 – will be meeting with G20 finance ministers and the prime minister this weekend.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives is leading this initiative with the support of the Harper government.

CCCE head John Manley recently said he would bring this message to the B20, “We need to oppose protectionism whenever and wherever it arises, and renew the push for multilateral and regional trade liberalization.”

He adds, “The CCCE has taken the lead within the private sector by strongly supporting the current negotiations toward a new economic partnership with the European Union. This is, without a doubt, the most significant trade initiative that Canada has undertaken since the early 1990s…”

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The AFP report is at