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12 September, 2014 - 09:56 By Tony Quested

Canada-Cambridge trade links strengthened

Canada-trade-minister

Canada has made fresh overtures to life science and ICT companies in the Cambridge UK technology cluster to forge potentially lucrative trade alliances.

Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, labelled his recent visit to Cambridge’s hi-tech heartland as a prime opportunity to bring together world-leading firms in the UK’s and Canada’s Science & Technology hotspots.

The Minister addressed a networking reception at the Møller Centre at Churchill College that drew together more than 60 UK-based firms with a dozen visiting Canadian business organisations.

Two-way merchandise trade with the UK reached $22.4 billion (£12.7bn) last year, making the UK Canada’s fifth largest trading partner.

Fast said the Cambridge stop on his four-day tour was integral to achieving one of the goals of the mission – to ensure that friends and partners in the UK understood what Canada could offer in key sectors of the economy.

“I’ve been talking about how Canadian businesses – including the ones with me today – are world leaders in their sectors and can help create economic opportunities for all involved through increased trade and investment with the UK,” he said.

The Minister also highlighted the conclusion of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

“Both here in the UK and in Canada, businesses with key links to innovative industries in the Cambridge area in both the life sciences and ICT sectors stand to reap significant benefits from the opportunities and improved market access that CETA will bring,” Fast said.

Once implemented, CETA will eliminate all existing EU tariffs on ICT products, which are as high as 14 per cent, he added.

CETA will also eliminate the vast majority of existing EU tariffs on advanced manufactured products, including those on medical devices, which are as high at eight per cent.

“This will be a win-win for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic,” the Minister added.

The agreed text of CETA between Canada and the EU is currently undergoing legal review and translation.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said the new trade deal will amount to an injection of $2.4 billion (£1.3 billion) into the UK economy, boost exports by almost a third and create thousands of new jobs.

The EU – and by extension the UK – is a priority market for Canada under the country’s Global Markets Action Plan, which is at the heart of Canada’s trade-expansion strategy.

Fast stressed the value of bringing together leaders from hi-tech, ICT and life sciences clusters in order to grow markets on both sides.

“Business leaders here understand – as I do – that trade opportunities between countries are greatly enhanced when companies are able to meet face-to-face with potential partners at events such as this,” he said.For more information on CETA and the Canadian Trade Commissioners Service, go to: http://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/eng/home.jsp• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Cambridge entrepreneurs, Charles Cotton (left) and Alan Barrell (right) with Ed Fast

For more information on CETA and the Canadian Trade Commissioners Service, go to: http://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/eng/home.jsp

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