Canada turns to Europe to avert economic crisis

October 18th, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Oct 18 (IANS) Canada, which banks on the US for about 85 percent of its global trade, is turning to Europe to lessen the impact of the economic crisis in its big neighbour down south.Prime Minister Stephen Harper Friday announced that Canada and the European Union (EU) have agreed to work towards a “historic, comprehensive economic agreement”.

After his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso at the Canada-EU summit in Quebec City, Harper said: “In the current global economic climate, we agreed that closer economic cooperation with key partners is becoming more important than ever.”

The leaders met before the summit of La Francophonie, an organisation of 55 French-speaking nations, which began Friday night.

Quoting a Canada-EU joint study, the prime minister said it “indicates that liberalised trade in goods and services has the potential to boost Canada’s economy by $12 billion within seven years following the implementation of the agreement”.

Harper added: “Canada and the EU will prepare formal mandates with a view to launching negotiations on an economic partnership as soon as possible in 2009.

“This government will pursue bilateral and multilateral trade relationships that bring continued prosperity to Canadians. As discussions move forward, we will continue to consult with the provinces and territories.”

Canada and the EU are also working on a comprehensive air transport agreement, which is likely to be concluded by Nov 30.

In view of the global financial crisis, the leaders favoured an international summit soon to discuss measures to meet the challenge.

They also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and Haiti and other troubled spots in the world and vowed to work closely on issues of energy security and climate change.

This was Harper’s first major engagement after winning Tuesday’s national election with a slightly better tally but still short of the majority mark.

The prime minister has already announced a six-point plan to avert the economic crisis.

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