Forest industry applauds move toward free trade with Japan
The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is welcoming the announcement that Canada intends to develop a free trade agreement with Japan.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today said that Canada will undertake to deepen its trade and investment relations with Japan by entering negotiations for a comprehensive trade deal. The Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, made the announcement during a trip to Tokyo.
"Japan has been one of our industry's most important markets for years. This agreement will help reinforce our existing relationship and lead to lucrative, new opportunities for Canadian forest products exporters." said Avrim Lazar, the President and CEO of FPAC. "The agreement will make our exports to Japan more competitive by lowering a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers and that's good for Canadian forest sector jobs." Lazar added.
Last year the Canadian forest sector exported $1.2 billion of wood, pulp and paper products to Japan, making it the 3rd largest international market for Canadian forest products. Many Canadian forest exports to the country are currently subject to significant tariffs which erode the industry's competitive position relative to other suppliers. Eliminating these barriers would give Canadian forest companies a decisive leg-up over its competitors in the Japanese market.
"As an industry we're focused on transforming the way we do business and expanding international markets is a critical component to achieving that goal." said Lazar. "The Prime Minister and Minister Fast are to be commended for their aggressive trade agenda which will greatly accelerate the industry's capacity to secure greater market share in existing and new markets around the world. We view a free trade agreement with Japan as a significant initiative in that context."
The Government of Canada's Forest Industry Long Term Competitiveness Strategy has been very effective in accelerating the industry transformation through innovation, market expansion and diversification. A key element of the strategy, the Canada Wood Export Program, has allowed Canada's forest products industry to deliver market diversification programs and activities in off-shore markets, including Asia-Pacific. This has helped the economic recovery and supported jobs in the more than 200 communities in Canada that depend on the forest sector.
FPAC provides a voice for Canada's wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $57-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2% of Canada's GDP and is one of Canada's largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 240,000 direct jobs across the country.