All right, thank you.
Internationally, Canada has established a reputation as a leading world-class producer of cutting-edge products, innovation, and services. I can personally attest to this from my many trips around the world. We should all be proud of the strong brand Canada has established as a partner of choice in the world. In fact, I would note that in 2010, and I believe also in 2009, FutureBrand of New York ranked Canada as the world's most respected country brand. We can be proud of that brand.
Our government understands the importance of international trade to Canada's economy. The Prime Minister has clearly indicated that trade is a priority for our government. International trade is an important piece of the government's economic action plan to create jobs, promote growth, and support long-term prosperity for Canadian workers and businesses.
In 2012 Canada's exports and imports of goods and services exceeded $1.1 trillion, or $32,000 for every person in Canada. That's approximately $3 billion each and every day. Our international trade is equivalent to over 60% of Canada's gross domestic product, and one in five jobs depends on trade. It's difficult to overstate the importance of open markets to Canada, and it is equally clear why Canada must succeed in international markets. My job, and that of my department, is to seek out new global markets and opportunities for Canadian businesses.
In my opinion, one of the most effective ways to open new markets and increase prosperity is to pursue and practise free trade. Free and open trade is an excellent driver of economic growth, employment, and opportunity. In fact, I would suggest that trade and investment are the twin engines of economic growth for the world economy. That's what drives our government's pro-trade plan, the most ambitious plan of its kind in Canadian history.
The plan recognizes that, while the United States remains Canada's closest and most important trading partner, our future economic success and prosperity will also be dependent on our ability to seek out, compete for, and secure opportunities in other markets.
We also believe that trade is a shared global interest and responsibility, and we'll continue to call on our trading partners to promote open markets and to resist protectionism and other trade-restrictive measures. This is at the core of Canada's pro-trade plan. It is a plan with results.
In seven years, our government has concluded trade agreements with nine different countries, foreign investment protection and promotion agreements with 16 countries, and 51 air transport agreements covering 74 countries. But we're not resting on our laurels; instead, we're continuing to seek new agreements and partnerships with our trading partners.
For example, as we speak, we're pursuing trade and investment opportunities in one of the most dynamic regions of the world, that being Asia, including initiatives with Japan, India, South Korea, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We're actively working to conclude our comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union. Canada is also deepening its engagement with the countries of the Pacific Alliance. These countries and trading blocs represent some of the highest growth markets in the world, and it's essential to Canada's continued economic competitiveness that we seek to negotiate preferential terms of access. This is important because I can assure you our competitors are trying to do the same thing.
While trade agreements are important in opening doors for Canadian companies, it's also important that we support these companies in moving through those doors. That's the central role of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service. In more than 150 cities worldwide, five regional offices, and in a growing number of leading industry associations across Canada, you can find trade commissioners helping businesses, large and small, break into and expand into new markets.
Armed with market intelligence and expert advice, trade commissioners work closely with Canadian companies to reduce the risk and the cost of doing business internationally. They connect Canadian business people with the right decision-makers abroad so that they can grow their businesses and create jobs right here at home. Last year we served almost 14,000 Canadian firms, most of them small and medium-sized enterprises.
Your committee's March 2012 report on the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service was welcomed, and its support for the service is very much appreciated. The government has responded to that report and is working diligently to implement its recommendations so as to maintain the excellent service provided to Canadian clients, and to contribute to Canada's prosperity through global commerce, investment, and innovation.
Allow me to end with a few words on our global commerce strategy, launched in 2007, which allowed Canada to put in place a framework that emphasizes a whole-of-government approach and greater engagement of small and medium-sized enterprises.
In response to a changing global economic landscape, the government announced in 2012 that it would undertake steps to refresh the global commerce strategy, or the GCS, through extensive consultations with Canadians, again with SMEs being the focus.
We've heard from many stakeholders across the country in this undertaking. In addition to meeting with provincial and municipal governments, my officials have met with more than 400 industry and business leaders across Canada.
The consultation process has helped inform a refreshed GCS which will guide Canada's trade plan going forward. The updated global commerce strategy will better align the government's trade and investment resources with our objectives vis-à-vis markets that matter the most.
Through the GCS our objective is to help Canadian businesses, especially our SMEs and education service providers, to compete successfully in targeted emerging markets while maintaining our efforts to strategically advance our commercial interest in important traditional markets.
Economic action plan 2013 reaffirmed the government's commitment to refresh the global commerce strategy and to announce it in the coming months. I will continue to look to this committee for advice and ideas as the government continues to create jobs and prosperity for Canadians through deeper trade and investment ties with our key global partners.
Thank you. I look forward to our discussion today.