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Canada to resume free trade talks with Singapore, exploring pacts with Peru, Colombia

15 November 2006

Canada to resume free trade talks with Singapore, exploring pacts with Peru, Colombia

The Associated Press

Canada has agreed to resume stalled free trade negotiations with Singapore, and exploring the possibility of establishing free trade pacts with Peru, Colombia and Ecuador, Canadian Trade Minister David Emerson said.

Emerson, speaking in a teleconference late Tuesday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum here, said he and his Singaporean counterpart Lim H’ng Kiang agreed to work toward concluding a free trade pact by early 2007 during talks Tuesday.

"We have negotiated in the past to attempt to put in place a free trade agreement... but those negotiations had stalled and had not progressed in recent months and indeed years," Emerson said.

"The minister from Singapore agreed that we would get back to the table and recommence negotiations hopefully to achieve a free trade agreement with Singapore sometime early in the new year."

Canada and Singapore launched free trade negotiations in October 2001. They have completed six rounds of talks but negotiations were put on hold since late 2003 to allow Singapore to conduct internal consultations on certain sensitive issues, said a Canadian official who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He declined to elaborate.

Emerson said he had also signed an agreement on foreign investment protection and promotion with Peru’s Trade Minister Mercedes Araoz Fernandez during talks here Tuesday to boost bilateral trade.

Emerson said the agreement would encourage two-way investment by giving investors the predictability and protection they need to pursue business opportunities. He said the pact has mechanisms for resolving disputes and transparency in terms of how they will be treated by host countries.

He said this was the first such agreement Canada has signed in eight years and would boost Canada’s economic competitiveness in Latin America.

Emerson said the Canada-Singapore FTA was also expected to include protection on investment.

"We are expecting our trade relationships with Peru and the other members of the Andean group to intensify over the next few years," he said. "We are in fact having consultations with Peru, Colombia and Ecuador about the potential to enter into free trade negotiations with those countries. So that’s a grouping that would become very important."

 source: IHT