Mr. Chair, I am pleased to rise this evening. I will speak for about 10 minutes, after which I will ask one or two questions, at most.
My speech will focus on one of our government's main priorities, which is to strengthen and diversify trade. In doing so, we can ensure that more people benefit from trade, which helps strengthen the middle class and promote long-term economic growth.
In an increasingly global economy, Canada's economic success relies not only on the hard work of Canadians, but also on solid trade relationships.
Canada is, and has always been, a trading nation. Canadians recognize that, when done properly, trade can be a positive force for change. It can stimulate economic growth, create good, well-paying jobs for the middle class, and open up opportunities for Canadian businesses to grow and expand.
The Government of Canada is committed to adopting a progressive trade agenda that creates the greatest number of possibilities for everyone, including women and indigenous peoples, so that we can fully participate in and benefit from the global economy.
To ensure that trade benefits Canadians and that those benefits are felt by everyone, the government is actively deepening its trade relationships by entering into modern and progressive free trade agreements in North America, Europe, and new fast-growing markets in Asia.
Thanks to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, commonly known as CETA, and the recent comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, the CPTPP, preferential market access for Canadian goods and services abroad has more than doubled in 18 months, from 31% to 63% of global gross domestic product.
The government is also making new transformative enhancements to Canada's export programs to help Canadian businesses find customers around the world.
Perhaps the most significant point is that the government is working hard to ensure that trade is done responsibly and is rules-based. No one benefits from a race to the bottom.
I will now review in greater detail Canada's main export markets to explain how the government is strengthening and diversifying trade with key partners.
Let's begin with the market closest to home, the North American market. Since coming into effect in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, has been a significant factor in growth and job creation in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It has improved the lives of workers and families in all three partner countries.
Trade among all three countries tripled in value during that period and is now worth about $1 trillion U.S. per year.
Because of NAFTA , North America is the largest and most comprehensive trade bloc in the world. With only 7% of the global population, it represents 28% of the global GDP.
Thanks to our interconnected supply chains, Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans not only sell goods to each other, but also produce goods together and sell them to other parts of the world.
Even though NAFTA has produced strong economic gains for all three countries, it needs to be reviewed.
It should be modernized for the 21st century, to ensure the benefits of trade are shared more broadly, with more people. That is why we are working hard to renegotiate an updated and improved NAFTA that is win-win-win, one that will foster greater opportunity for the middle class and those working hard to join it in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
Our government will always uphold and defend Canadians' interests and values, and we are committed to reaching a good deal.
Furthermore, in the face of increasing globalization, the government knows that we need to look beyond North America and establish closer trade relationships with large and emerging markets around the world.
In Europe, this has meant the delivery of CETA, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. As of September 2017, all economically significant parts of CETA had been brought into force, deepening our ties with the world's second-largest single-market economy and providing Canadian businesses with unprecedented access to a market of more than 500 million people, with a GDP of $22 trillion.
With commitments on labour rights, environmental protection, sustainable development, and cultural diversity, CETA represents a model for a modern, progressive trade agreement.
Let us go a little farther with regard to geography and trade. Our government is actively pursuing trade opportunities for Canada in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. Its landmark achievement in that regard is the comprehensive progressive agreement on the trans-Pacific partnership, or CPTPP, which together with the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement that came into force in 2015, will solidly anchor Canada's place in that part of the world.
The CPTPP, the largest regional trade deal in history, will establish a network of open markets in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region, which represents 495 million people with a combined GDP of $13.5 trillion. This agreement includes large Asian markets, such as Japan, and emerging markets, such as Malaysia and Vietnam, with significant potential for further growth over time.
The government has been focused not only on opening new markets but also on ensuring that the trans-Pacific partnership protects cultural identity and diversity and promotes corporate responsibility, gender equality, and indigenous rights. It also contains the strongest labour and environmental provisions of any trade deal in history.
Unfortunately, I have to wrap up. As we focus on strengthening and diversifying trade, Canada is building on a position of strength. Canada is open for business and open to progressive, inclusive, and rule-based international trade.
There are many good reasons to invest in and do business with Canada. I do not have time to list them all, but I would like to mention at least two. First, Canada offers businesses and investors a real openness to international trade, and second, foreign direct investment is welcome in Canada. That is not to mention the fact that we offer international companies the help they need to navigate our trade environment.
In conclusion, Canada is in a unique position in the world. The time has come for us to be more ambitious and to seize all opportunities. The time has come to enhance and diversify trade and to put to it to work for the people. This will contribute to building a solid middle class and economy in the long term.