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15 December 2000
Canada: December 2000

The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its sixth review of Canada on 13 and 15 December 2000. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.

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The review enables the TPRB to conduct a collective examination of the full range of trade policies and practices of each WTO member countries at regular periodic intervals to monitor significant trends and developments which may have an impact on the global trading system.

The review is based on two reports which are prepared respectively by the WTO Secretariat and the government under review and which cover all aspects of the country's trade policies, including its domestic laws and regulations, the institutional framework, bilateral, regional and other preferential agreements, the wider economic needs and the external environment. A record of the discussion and the Chairperson's summing-up together with these two reports will be published in due course at the complete trade policy review of Canada and will be available from the WTO Secretariat, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, 1211 Geneva 21.

Since December 1989, the following reports have been completed: Argentina (1992 and 1999), Australia (1989, 1994 and 1998), Austria (1992), Bahrain (2000) Bangladesh (1992 and 2000), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993 and 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992, 1996 and 2000), Burkina Faso (1998), Cameroon (1995), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996,1998 and 2000), Chile (1991 and 1997), Colombia (1990 and 1996), Costa Rica (1995), C˘te d’Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992 and 1999), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2.000), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Ghana (1992), Guinea (1999), Hong Kong (1990, 1994 and 1998), Hungary (1991 and 1998), Iceland (1994 and 2000), India (1993 and 1998), Indonesia (1991, 1994 and 1998), Israel (1994 and 1999), Jamaica (1998), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995, 1998 and 2000), Kenya (1993 and 2000), Korea, Rep. of (1992, 1996 and 2000), Lesotho (1998), Macau (1994), Malaysia (1993 and 1997), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995), Mexico (1993 and 1997), Morocco (1989 and 1996), New Zealand (1990 and 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 and 1998), Norway (1991, 1996 and 2000), Pakistan (1995), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994 and 2000), the Philippines (1993), Poland (1993 and 2000), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992, 1996 and 2000), Slovak Republic (1995), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 and 1998), Sri Lanka(1995), Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 and 1994), Switzerland (1991, 1996 and 2000 (with Liechtenstein), Tanzania (2000), Thailand (1991, 1995 and 1999), Togo (1999), Trinidad and Tobago (1998), Tunisia (1994), Turkey (1994 and 1998), the United States (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1999), Uganda (1995), Uruguay (1992 and 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).


We have had an open and stimulating discussion on the trade policies and practices of Canada. Members were impressed by Canada's sustained, strong economic performance, attributing this to its generally liberal trade regime, sound macroeconomic policies and the U.S. cyclical lead. Trade had been an important element in this performance, the share of exports to GDP rising from some 25% to 45% over the last decade and imports following a similar path. However, the high and growing share of exports destined for the United States was seen as a source of potential vulnerability.

In this, its sixth Review, Canada's continued commitment to, and active participation in the work of the WTO was again fully acknowledged, with several Members welcoming its support for the launching of a new round of negotiations with a broad agenda. Canada has also been an active promoter of both greater internal and external transparency in the WTO. On the other hand, some Members reiterated concerns that Canada's growing number of preferential arrangements might cause net trade diversion and questioned the exclusion of some agri-food products from such arrangements. Relative to FTA partners, preferences to developing countries and LDCs appeared modest; it was urged that access be improved.

Participants once more recognized that access to the Canadian market is generally liberal although barriers have persisted in a few but important sectors. Thus, Members expressed concerns about a few remaining unbound tariff lines, and tariff peaks still affecting items such as food products, textiles and clothing, footwear, and shipbuilding. It was noted that several of these products are of particular export interest to developing countries. Market access in textiles and clothing was restricted by quotas, while certain import regulations for example the NAFTA rules of origin, favoured particular trading partners.

The number and duration of anti-dumping measures in force, and their concentration in the steel sector, were of particular concern to many Members. Foreign access restrictions in the supply-managed dairy, poultry and egg sectors had not abated, including through high out-of-quota rates that acted as de facto quantitative restrictions. Also queried was the recent increase in financial support to the agri-food sector. Information was sought on subsidies under the new dairy export regime and on the exports of the Canadian Wheat Board. Interest was expressed in reforms to the Export Development Corporation.

Investment and ownership are generally open to foreigners but some restrictions continue. Participants asked about the scope for additional foreign market access under Canada's new bank branching regime. In air transport, Members noted the links between foreign entry conditions and the degree of competition in Canada's airline market. Members asked about recent pro-competitive developments in the telecommunications sector and when restrictions on foreign investment might be lifted. They took note of the importance Canada attaches to protecting its cultural, health and educational sectors.

Members asked about further progress in removing inter-provincial trade barriers in areas such as standards, wine and other alcoholic beverage marketing. Questions were also asked with respect to the role of provinces in Canada's trade policy. Several Members asked if there were plans to include government procurement at sub-federal level under the rules of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement, and about a number of federal and provincial assistance programmes.

Questions were also asked regarding:

  • Canada's review of foreign acquisitions;

  • its support for a multilateral agreement on investment;

  • protection of IPRs including geographical indications;

  • its ratification of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; and

  • Canada's experience on consultations with civil society.

Members clearly appreciated the comprehensive responses provided by Canada to most questions raised during the Review and looked forward to receiving the outstanding answers. I thank in particular the Canadian delegation for the efforts it made to provide written answers to advance questions at the start of our first session on Wednesday.

In conclusion, it is clear that this Body appreciates Canada's commitment to a strong rules-based multilateral trading system. Members concurred in characterizing Canada's trade regime as transparent and liberal, although a number of concerns remain. In this respect, several Members believed that liberalization should also extend to those sensitive areas that to date lag the process of reform. This would bring them in line with Canada's generally liberal policies in other areas to the benefit of both Canada's economy and of the multilateral trading system.