Nearshore Americas

Turn Over the Maple Leaf: Canada Takes a New Approach to LatAm

Source: Calgary Herald

Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have wrapped up his visit to Latin America where a number of trade initiatives were announced, but his government remains busy forging links with Canada’s neighbours to the south.

Diane Ablonczy, minister of state of foreign affairs (Americas and consular affairs), is travelling across Canada to discuss trade and investment in the Americas with stakeholders, including academics, business executives, researchers and members of non-governmental organizations who work in or have operations in those countries.

“You need to be talking to people, exchanging ideas, working together with them and forming partnerships on issues of concern,” Ablonczy said Wednesday, following a one-day stop in Calgary to meet with oil and gas representatives at Nexen and Talisman Energy, and University of Calgary researchers.

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“This position here, the minister of state for the Americas, is a full-time focus on that kind of bridge building, partnership building and friendship building.”

Nexen spokeswoman Patti Lewis said company management had a good meeting with the Calgary-based minister, who seemed very interested in Nexen’s operations in Colombia.

“The meeting gave us the opportunity to update her on the work we’re doing in Colombia and future plans we have,” Lewis said, adding the company is also exploring for shale gas in that country.

Ablonczy’s tour comes after her return from accompanying Harper to Latin America, which yielded 25 initiatives and agreements in trade, air transportation, taxation and other areas.

Those initiatives included free-trade deals with Colombia and Honduras, negotiations to modernize Canada’s freetrade agreement with Costa Rica, and agreements to boost trade in Brazil.

Canada has always been a trading nation and in order for its “national income” to grow, it needs to exchange more goods and services with more partners, said Ablonczy.

“That’s where our government has been very active, in signing free-trade deals, open doors to the exchange of goods and services,” she said, adding some of these Latin countries are experiencing tremendous economic growth.

Ablonczy will travel to Edmonton and Vancouver this week to continue her meetings.

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In addition to discussing recent developments from Harper’s visit to Latin America, Ablonczy said she will also be raising awareness about travel safety abroad as the number of consular cases is on the rise.

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Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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