Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. It's a pleasure to be back with you today.
I'm joined by Mr. Don McDougall, deputy director, trade policy negotiations division at Foreign Affairs, and we expect to be joined a little later by Susan Harper. Susan is our director general, trade controls and technical barriers bureau.
We look forward to our exchange with you today and responding to your questions.
I will make a few comments in English and French. I would be happy to answer your questions in the official language of your choice.
I am delighted that the committee continues its study of the Canada-Brazil commercial relationship. The committee's September 2009 report Exploring Enhanced Commercial Relations with Brazil provided very useful analysis and recommendations related to strengthening this commercial relationship—a priority for Canada under the Americas Strategy and the Global Commerce Strategy, including recommending the initiation of exploratory discussions on the possibility of a free trade agreement or an economic cooperation agreement with Mercosur.
Brazil is an economic powerhouse by almost any measure. The size of Brazil's economy has surpassed that of Canada, and the International Monetary Fund expects that Brazil will be the 6th largest economy globally by the end of this year.
In 2010, Brazil was Canada's 10th largest merchandise trading partner globally. Bilateral merchandise trade with Brazil totalled almost $6 billion in 2010, an increase of 11% compared to the 2008 data available when the committee studied this topic in 2009, and a 38% increase since 2005.
Investment is the bigger story. In 2010, Brazil was the eighth largest source of foreign direct investment in Canada, with $13.5 billion invested in our country, primarily in the mining sector, cement, and the brewery beverage sector. Brazil was the 11th largest recipient of Canadian direct investment abroad, with a total Canadian investment of nearly $10 billion in Brazil. We currently have 400 Canadian companies active in Brazil, with over 50 in the mining sector.
Brazil was also the highest tourism growth market for Canada last year. Brazilians, according to the Canadian Tourism Commission, are the highest per day spenders among those who visit our country.
The number of students from Brazil coming to Canada has also increased. We have over 80 bilateral academic agreements between the two countries, and currently we are receiving over 17,000 students from Brazil each year, both full-time and part-time. They contribute almost $70 million to the Canadian economy. Canada is currently the number one destination for Brazilians who study foreign languages abroad for less than six months. We have 15,000 part-time language students from Brazil in Canada each year.
The Canada-Brazil relationship has seen major progress in recent years, achieving a new level of maturity and positive engagement.
The re-launch in October 2009, after a 10-year hiatus, of the Canada-Brazil Joint Economic and Trade Council, JETC, was a turning point in underscoring our mutual desire to reinforce our bilateral commercial relationship. This mechanism provides an excellent forum for dialogue and has resulted in a number of new initiatives. The next annual meeting is scheduled for December 1 in Brasilia with DFAIT's Deputy Minister, Mr. Louis Lévesque, heading the Canadian delegation.
Other important mechanisms include the Consultative Committee on Agriculture, the Canada-Brazil Joint Committee for Cooperation on S&T and Innovation, and the OECD's aircraft sector understanding on aircraft export financing.
In June of this year, International Trade Minister Fast led a successful trade mission to Brazil in the context of a booming Brazil infrastructure sector, spurred by opportunities associated with Brazil's hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016, as well as the Brazilian government's ambitious $800 billion infrastructure investment program. Minister Fast expressed the desire to deepen our economic ties and integrate our global value chains to increase our mutual global competiveness.
Following up on this committee's recommendation in your 2009 report, Minister Fast also announced the launch of exploratory trade discussions with the Mercosur countries. These include Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay—four countries with a combined population of 245 million people and a combined GDP of $2.6 trillion.
A positive first meeting was held from May 31 to June 1 of this year in Ottawa, and a constructive second round occurred earlier this month in Uruguay. Officials continue to exchange technical information regarding the approach Canada and Mercosur take in their respective negotiations. Don is here with me to handle any questions that might come up in that respect.
I should say that we've also expanded our commercial footprint in Brazil. Since your report, we have added two new trade offices in Porto Alegre and Recife. We've also increased our trade staff in our consulates generals in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro.
Only two months after Minister Fast's visit, Prime Minister Harper visited Brasilia and Sao Paolo from August 7 to 9 of this year, accompanied by an unprecedented delegation of four ministers, and members of the business community. He was accompanied by Ministers Baird, Fast, Ambrose, and Ablonczy. During this official visit, the Prime Minister also visited Colombia, Costa Rica, and Honduras.
The Prime Minister's visit amply demonstrated the priority that Canada attaches to its relations with Brazil. He and Brazil's new president, Dilma Rousseff, agreed that, despite the existing commercial dynamic, we had significant unrealized commercial potential.
A number of important new initiatives were announced during the visit, and I'd like to list some of them briefly. There is the creation of a Canada-Brazil CEO business forum. Scotiabank president Rick Waugh was designated by the Prime Minister as Canada's co-chair, and the Brazilian president of the Vale mining group was the designated co-chair on the part of Brazil. A Canada-Brazil strategic partnership dialogue at the foreign minister level was also announced, and we expect Brazil's foreign minister in Canada to meet with Minister Baird in the second half, or even the first half, of next year. Agreements were also announced on air transport, to facilitate air transport and social security. Two memoranda of understanding were announced in relation to Olympic Games cooperation and international development cooperation. There is also a new science and technology action plan focused on innovation. An energy dialogue will be pursued between the two countries, who are both major energy producers. Canada also announced the opening of three new visa application centres in Brazil, which will pre-screen applicants' documents to ensure that we provide speedy visa service to legitimate business travellers, tourists, and students. We also announced an agreement during the Prime Minister's visit to negotiate a defence cooperation agreement between the two countries and to initiate or explore the possibility of a space cooperation dialogue between the space agencies of the two countries.
These two high-level visits (within two months of each other) sent a strong message to Brazilians. Expectations are now high in terms of follow-up and work to sustain and strengthen the engagement. As always, we welcome this committee's views and recommendations with regards to our work towards the development of a strong and dynamic relationship between Canada and Brazil, for the benefit of our businesses, our citizens and our economies.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd be very pleased to answer any questions you may have.