Thank you very much.
Thank you, Susan.
I am Kirsten Hillman, acting assistant deputy minister for trade negotiations. I'm also Canada's chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I'm here with my colleague, Steve Verheul, who is our chief negotiator for the Canada-Europe trade negotiations, the CETA.
I am very happy to be here today to provide an update on Canada's trade and investment negotiations, as well as on how we are working to resolve some trade policy issues.
Canada seeks to maintain a level playing field with our competitors and open new markets for Canadian businesses through a range of trade policy tools including: multilateral, bilateral and regional negotiations, foreign investment protection and promotion agreements, and other instruments.
As you know well, one of the major initiatives we are working to bring into force is the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA.
The EU is the world's largest market, with a $20-trillion economy and more than 500 million consumers. Once CETA comes into force, Canada will be the only G7 country to have guaranteed preferential access to both the United States and the EU member states.
CETA will provide Canadian companies with first-mover advantage over competitors from other countries that do not have a trade agreement in place with the EU.
Right now, Canada and the EU are finalizing the legal review and translating the agreement into French and the other 21 official EU treaty languages.
We are also looking at certain refinements of the investor state dispute provisions in the text. These include clarifications of the commitments in the existing text and initial steps toward fulfilling commitments made under the agreement.
Following translation, the domestic process will begin for both parties to bring policies, regulations and legislation into conformity with the obligations under CETA.
I would like to note that your counterpart committee from the European Parliament is planning to visit Ottawa on March 21 and 22 for a fact-finding mission on CETA, and they will seek a meeting with you. This would be an excellent early opportunity to exchange views with your counterparts on opportunities the CETA presents for Canada and the EU to deepen our commercial relationship.
Global Affairs Canada is also working on a number of other initiatives outlined in Minister Freeland's mandate letter. We're working to bring recently concluded agreements with Ukraine into force, and to ratify the updates we have made to our FTAs with Chile and Israel. Work on these files is proceeding on a priority basis.
Canada has also recently signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and we are actively consulting with Canadians. We have a session devoted to this the day after tomorrow, so I will leave my comments at that for now.
Moving forward, the Government of Canada is looking for opportunities to enhance trade relationships with emerging and established markets, including China and India. We are looking to take a rigorous and step-by-step approach to enhance our relationship with China and engage Canadians on this issue. On India, discussions have been ongoing since late 2010. There is more work to do. We are continuing to work with India to move these negotiations and this overall relationship forward.
I'd also like to take the opportunity to update you very quickly on Canada's activities at the World Trade Organization. The World Trade Organization remains essential to Canada's trade policy tool kit, as some issues, such as domestic subsidies on agriculture, can only be addressed in a global forum. Recent achievements at the WTO include the trade facilitation agreement, which was concluded at the ninth Ministerial Conference in December 2013, and the expanded information technology agreement, which was concluded at the 10th Ministerial Conference in December 2015.
Canada has committed to moving forward to ratify these agreements as soon as possible. We are also working with groups of like-minded countries at the WTO to negotiate a trade in services agreement and an agreement to facilitate trade in environmental products.
While Canada is moving forward with many partners around the world, as we all know, our trade and economic relationship with the United States remains essential. My colleague David Morrison will now speak to the importance of the Canada-U.S. economic relationship.