Monday, January 19, 2009

Canada Close to Central American Trade Deal

(Financial Post – Alia McMullen)

Peter Kent, Canada’s minister of state of foreign affairs for the Americas, said Friday free trade negotiations with the Central American Four (CA4) were progressing very well and could be finalized by February.

Negotiations with the CA4 – which is El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua – appear to be moving forward despite Canada’s concerns of electoral fraud in the Nicaraguan election of November 2008.

“The CA4 negotiations are proceeding at pace and we want to in February get through the last round. We do believe it’s possible to get through the last series of negotiations,” Mr. Kent, a former broadcast journalist elected to the House of Commons late last year, said via conference call in El Salvador after visits to Nicaragua and Guatamala. The minister did not visit Honduras.

Canada and the CA4 agreed to meet February 23-27 at the last round of negotiations in December.

Mr. Kent said Canada was trying to close the FTA negotiations with the CA4 to allow Canadian exporters to compete on level playing field with countries with FTAs in the region, principally the United States.

“Canadian businesses in the region have expressed some frustration that without these agreements, they don’t have that level playing field,” he said. Read more here.