Trade deal could benefit Inuit entrepreneurs, federal ministers say
New agreement will establish council to provide networking and training opportunities for Indigenous groups
Entrepreneurs in Inuit Nunangat could benefit from an international trade deal for indigenous peoples, two federal cabinet ministers said this week.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Economic and Trade Cooperation Agreement is a non-binding agreement between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei (commonly known as Taiwan) that aims to improve and promote international trade for businesses indigenous.
Originally approved by Canada in December, Thursday’s approval ceremony at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. was to coincide with National Aboriginal History Month.
“This is the new direction in Canada’s trade policy, and it is consistent with our approach to improving relations with Indigenous peoples and with UNDRIP (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples),” said Mary Ng, Federal Minister for International Affairs. Trade.
The arrangement includes the creation of a partnership council with members from each participating economy. The council will meet at least once a year and is responsible for organizing activities such as workshops, seminars, trade missions, internships, mentorships and other networking and training opportunities.
No money has been announced to fund the council or its activities. Each member economy will bear its own costs of participation, and the arrangement lists virtual meetings as the preferred method for these activities.
Ng and federal Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal gave examples of how Inuit could benefit from the arrangement, with Ng explaining how he could support the “wonderful creations of Inuit artists” and Vandal putting the focus on Nunavut fisheries.
“This arrangement can promote the export of harvested fish to markets around the world, bringing prosperity to the fishing industry and communities across Nunavut,” Vandal said.
“Lessons learned on the shores of the Arctic Ocean can now be shared with indigenous fishers in other oceans.
Nunavut NDP MP Lori Idlout hailed the arrangement as a “step in the right direction.”
In an emailed statement, she said she continues to support the trade deal, but wants the federal government to take action to remove some of the barriers Indigenous entrepreneurs face.
“I see the opportunity in the people I meet – they want to work and be involved in the economic decisions that can grow their communities,” Idlout said, reiterating that “many indigenous peoples still struggle to access… .to basic infrastructure like a safe place to call home and a stable internet connection where they live.
The Partnership Board is expected to review the impact of the arrangement within three years and this review will be made public online.