Western Economic Partnership Agreement

A free trade agreement in its most fundamental sense is an attempt by existing industries to find new markets. Their need to do so stems from industrialization – that is, from the process of developing sectors that offer a high level of protection in the international market. In other words, domestic market-seeking sectors tend to be the driving force behind free trade agreements. The first WEPAs covered the period from 1996 to 2001. During this round, the department provided $20 million, complemented by $20 million in funding from each of the four western provinces for a total investment of $160 million invested in more than 192 projects. An evaluation of the first UNEP showed that funding leveraged an additional $456 million from other levels of government and the private sector. In other words, every dollar paid by WEPA drew another $2.86 in leverage from other sources ($5.75 for every dollar paid by the department). In addition, it is estimated that 120 new companies have been created as a result of WEPA projects. Nearly $500 million has been invested in buildings, equipment and projects that create more than 1,300 full-time jobs.

The evaluation focused on two key components of the EMPA: EMPA as a decision support tool; and economic development projects funded under the EMPA using the authority of the Western Diversification Program (MEP). It should be noted that several DD officials felt that some negotiated provincial priorities were not aligned with the Department`s priorities or, at least, were currently a relatively low priority for the Department. The most frequently cited provincial priorities were the promotion of Manitoba as a tourism destination around the world and the promotion of community and regional development and diversification in Saskatchewan (since the agreements were negotiated, community economic development has become much less of a priority for the department). Very few municipal economic or tourism development projects have been approved. 2. Funded projects were aligned with departmental strategic outcomes and government-wide priorities and were aligned with federal government priorities. The Department strives to promote innovation, business development and community economic development in the area of its mandate. WEPA-funded projects have contributed to each of these priority areas. The 2011 Speech from the Throne highlighted the federal government`s commitment to supporting business development, productivity, innovation, trade and economic competitiveness. All key informants agree that funded projects are consistent with the western Canadian federal government`s agenda and departmental priorities. Of the 8 projects examined as case studies, 4 also generated spin-off projects, follow-up investments or developments. For example, after participating in international sales trips organized as part of a WEPA project, an industry partner was able to establish business partnerships with 15 tour operators from five different countries, attract $1.3 million in new investments and expand its customer base by an additional 400 customers.

A nanotechnology research center specializing in nerve repair that works in partnership with private sector companies to develop scientific drugs on neurons and train researchers. An infrastructure innovation cluster helped partner companies attract significant new investment in the development and commercialization of new technologies. A world-class electron microscope established in Alberta as part of a WEPA project has led to a new project to showcase students from the province of nanotechnology. 5. The EMPA is an appropriate role for the federal government given its economic development responsibilities. However, WEPA is not a necessary role, as other models can be used to promote economic development. The overall objective of the EPAs is to contribute to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction in ACP countries through trade. An example of this is the EU`s economic agreement with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). .

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