Significant Business Opportunities to be Gained from Stronger Australia-Canada Economic Partnership

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) today released a joint statement and two studies that recommend a suite of policy measures to promote increased bilateral trade and investment.

In recent years there has been a significant expansion in two-way investment between Australia and Canada, particularly in the natural resources and financial sectors. In view of that, and given Canada’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations (TPP), the two business organisations concluded that both countries would benefit from a better understanding of the potential for enhanced trade and investment.

Ai Group and the CCCE submitted the statement and studies to the Hon Dr. Craig Emerson, Australian Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, and the Honourable Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia Pacific Gateway prior to their meeting in Canberra on Monday 30 May.

Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said: “With the centre of global economic gravity moving to Asia, Australia should be making the most of its position in the region as an investment destination. We are well placed as a base for Canadian business seeking to engage with the region.

“Our statement offers many options to increase and foster this engagement. It also offers a range of options that could be taken up in bilateral negotiations, possibly in the TPP or other forums such as the Australia-Canada Economic Leadership Forum,” Mr Willox said.

The Honourable John Manley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the CCCE, said: “There is substantial scope to expand two-way trade in services and investment between Canada and Australia. Both countries are strong in energy, mining and agriculture as well as financial services, and there is a need for action to address impediments to growth in those and other areas.

“Canada is aggressively pursuing new opportunities in the Asian region, most recently launching free trade negotiations with Japan. A strengthened economic relationship with Australia would be an important part of Canada’s Asia-Pacific strategy,” Mr Manley said.

Policy recommendations from the studies include:

  • eliminating all tariffs on bilateral trade;
  • improving labour mobility, including measures to facilitate short-term intra-corporate transfers;
  • modernising the existing double tax agreement to bring it in line with the updated OECD model agreement;
  • a bilateral agreement to extend reciprocal treatment under both countries’ foreign investment review systems.

In addition, the joint statement recommends that Australia and Canada should:

  • explore the development of a bilateral competition policy framework that would supersede anti-dumping actions;
  • establish a bilateral framework for consultations and cooperation on biosecurity;
  • conclude an agreement on government procurement that ensures most-favoured-nation treatment;
  • update the existing bilateral air services agreement; and
  • consider a simplified long-stay visa for skilled and professional workers.

To encourage business travel and other exchanges between the two countries, the joint statement suggests that Canada should pursue full membership in the APEC Travel Card scheme, while Australia should make it easier for young Canadians to work temporarily in Australia.