Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Before I begin my comments, I want to introduce a number of other people at the table. First of all, I have my deputy minister here, Christine Hogan, along with my chief financial officer, Arun Thangaraj, as well as Martin Zablocki, the CEO and president of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, and, of course, Benoit Daignault, the president and CEO of EDC.
I'm here to discuss with you the 2015-16 main estimates and to highlight how our government has been supporting small and medium-sized businesses as they seek to grow and succeed in new markets around the world.
Let me start briefly with some of our recent trade achievements. Canada is of course one of the great trading nations of the world. Trade generates approximately 60% of our GDP and is responsible for one in five Canadian jobs. In 2014, for the first time in our history, Canada's two-way trade topped $1 trillion. Last year, Canadian exports to the world increased by more than 11% over the previous year, reaching more than $524 billion. These numbers matter because increased trade leads to increased prosperity and better jobs for all Canadians.
This past April, the Minister of Finance tabled economic action plan 2015 in Parliament. This plan fully recognizes that international trade and investment are vital to the continued growth of the Canadian economy.
Mr. Chair, since coming to office in 2006, our Conservative government has made opening markets around the world for Canadian businesses a cornerstone of its economic policy. Today, Canadian businesses are more competitive in foreign markets through preferential market access, through better investment conditions, and through reduced barriers to international trade.
In August of 2014 we completed negotiations on an historic free trade agreement with the European Union. The EU is the world's largest integrated market, representing more than 500 million consumers and annual economic activity of $20 trillion. Once this trade agreement comes into force, Canada will be the only country to have free trade agreements with both the U.S. and the EU—I should say that we'll be the only major developed economy to have free trade agreements with both the U.S. and the EU—significantly improving our reputation as a preferred destination for foreign investment.
Canada will also be experiencing greater export success in another key market, thanks to our free trade agreement with South Korea, which entered into force on January 1 of this year. That agreement is expected to boost Canada's economy by close to $2 billion and increase Canadian exports to South Korea by over 30%. Also, of course, it makes Korea Canada's preferred gateway into the larger dynamic Asian marketplace.
Mr. Chair, this government knows that while traditional markets remain vitally important for Canadian trade, we have witnessed a remarkable shift of economic power to Asia. China, India, and the Southeast Asian family of nations are the high-growth markets of the future, and that is why we continue to engage with these countries, including in last week's announcement of the launch of exploratory talks on a Canada-Philippines free trade agreement.
To ensure our long-term prosperity, Canada must continue to expand its trade and investment opportunities around the world. Trade is really our lifeblood.
You may recall that back in the late 1980s it was the then Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney who masterfully brought into force the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement. That was soon followed by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
However, between 1993 and 2006, under the previous government, Canada fell way behind other countries that were aggressively negotiating trade agreements. In fact, over those 13 years, Canada signed a paltry three small trade agreements, forcing our government to play serious catch-up, and that is exactly what we've done.
Over the last nine years we have concluded forward-thinking trade agreements with 38 different countries, with many more to come. Soon our exporters will have preferential access to over half of the global marketplace.
In fact, when you add up the actual dollar value of the market access represented by all of Canada's concluded free trade agreements, 98.5% of them were negotiated under Conservative governments. We're very proud of that record. Trade, when done right, creates more jobs, higher wages, and greater prosperity for Canadians.
Canada cannot afford to allow the U.S. and our other competitors to ever outpace us again when it comes to market access. Indeed, with our free trade agreement with the EU, we expect that we will gain first-mover advantage over our American cousins.
With that in mind, our government continues to advance negotiations on a number of other ambitious trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP, as we call it, includes 12 Asia-Pacific countries, representing 800 million consumers and a $28 trillion market. That is why we're at the table negotiating the very best agreement for Canadians. We're also negotiating bilateral trade agreements with countries like India, Japan, and Ukraine.
Colleagues, in November 2013 I released the global markets action plan. That's our government's blueprint for creating jobs and economic growth through trade and investment. This global markets action plan, or GMAP as we call it, aligns Canada's trade, development, and foreign policy tools to advance our country's commercial interests around the world. We have placed a special focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, which are the backbone of our economy.
It might surprise you to know that there are more than one million SMEs across Canada, but only 41,000 export anywhere in the world. Of that number, only 11,000 actually export beyond North America. We need to improve that performance. Our goal under the GMAP is to nearly double the number of small and medium-sized enterprises that export to emerging markets. We want to move that from 11,000 to 21,000 SMEs that export to emerging markets.
That is why budget 2015 highlighted two new programs that deliver additional resources to support SMEs as they develop their export capacity. The first is a new export market development program that delivers a total of $50 million over five years in direct financial assistance to entrepreneurs who are seeking to expand into new markets. It is expected that each year this funding will help between 500 and 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses explore and expand their export potential. Funding could include dollar-for-dollar matching support to incent Canadian SMEs to join trade missions or develop web-based export prospecting solutions.
The Prime Minister also announced additional funding of $42 million over five years, with another $9.25 million ongoing thereafter, to expand Canada's trade commissioner service. We expect that this will allow us to deploy an additional 20 trade commissioners around the world where we need them the most, promoting the interests of our small and medium-sized enterprises
Historic free trade agreements require historic trade promotion. That's why in the fall of 2014 I launched the Go Global workshop series across Canada. These workshops are a partnership between our trade commissioner service, EDC, BDC, the Canadian Commercial Corporation, and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. The workshops will ensure that our SMEs are aware of the markets we have opened up for them and the tools we've made available to them so that they land successfully in those new export markets.
In just a few months the program has reached over 2,000 participants, and we expect that this program will continue. We've gone all the way from one coast to the other, helping our SMEs gain awareness of the tools that we've made available to them. We're breaking down the silos between our export agencies, taking a whole-of-government approach to trade, and bringing the resources of Ottawa to Main Street, directly to our businesses and the communities in which they operate.
Additionally, we have embedded 27 of our best trade commissioners in business associations across Canada. The goal is to allow our trade representatives to gain a better insight into the specific needs, challenges, and opportunities within each sector of our economy, in turn informing the development of policies and strategies that will better support our SMEs.
Finally, I want to inform the committee that last month I hosted the inaugural meeting of my global markets action plan advisory council. The council is composed of nine industry leaders from across the country representing key sectors of the Canadian economy who provide me with strategic insight and real-world perspectives to ensure the GMAP reflects the priorities, needs, and interests of Canadian businesses and that our government's trade policies stay ahead of the curve.
As one final note, over the last four years I have led many trade missions to our priority markets of interest: six trade missions to China; 13, soon to be 14, missions to Southeast Asia; four trade missions to India; and others to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Trade missions representing a non-threatening environment within which Canadian SMEs can experience a new market, touch base with key stakeholders, and reach prospective customers, retailers, distributors, investors, and partners.
Our government is proud of its record of opening up new markets for Canada's exporters and investors. We believe our efforts will deliver unparalleled prosperity for future generations of Canadians. We are also confident the host of trade promotion tools we are providing to Canadian companies will free up and realize Canada's true export potential.
Mr. Chair, this government is fully committed to ensuring Canadian companies, especially SMEs, have the tools they need to seize some market opportunities available to them.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to your questions.