(The Globe and Mail – Barrie McKenna)
Ed Fast is a cabinet minister in a hurry.
Canada has fallen perilously behind its key rivals in cementing trade and investment ties with China and other emerging Asian powers. And Mr. Fast, the Harper government’s champion on international trade, is in a race to catch up. Which means a lot of air miles for a guy who, prior to his ascension to the job last May, had never even set foot in China.
This year, he’ll visit all nine member countries of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a list that includes Australia, Vietnam and New Zealand, as he lobbies for Canada’s admission into the coveted free-trade negotiating club. He was also in China with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in February, signing an investment agreement and talking up Canadian exports – his second trip there in less than a year.
Then it was on to Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (three other TPP members) before heading for home. Mr. Fast is plotting possible trips to Japan, South Korea and Brazil later this year, as Canada strives to sign new deals and diversify commerce to faster-growing parts of the world – which is a gentle way of saying Ottawa wants to break the country’s overreliance on the United States as a destination for exports. Read more here.
Date: March 5, 2012