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Canada: hemisphere trade

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Persuading the Canadian government to push for greater sales in long-neglected Latin American export markets has been the stock- in-trade of two of Canada's newest and most successful international trade associations.

In a country where trade associations usually shun heavy US-style lobbying, the 11- year-old Canadian Association-Latin America and the Caribbean (CALA), and the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce, both based in Toronto, have prodded the Canadian government to increase hemispheric trade.

Instead of making annual pitches to government or responding automatically to every federal budget announcement, which is common practice with more established groups such as the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, the two associations work hand- in-glove with the government to push trade and technology to Latin America.

Last spring, for instance, CALA and the Canadian government's Department of Industry, Trade, and Commerce cooperated closely in planning the visit of Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo to Canada. The purpose of the trip was to cement a series of agreements between the two countries, offering Mexican oil for Canadian technology.

And last October, Canada's Departments of External Affairs (Foreign Office) and Industry, Trade, and Commerce ordered home nearly all of Canada's ambassadors and high commissioners to Latin American and Caribbean Commonwealth nations (30 in all), to take part in CALA's eighth and largest annual conference to date, in Toronto.

Meetings and conferences of the Brazil- Canada Chamber of Commerce started in 1973. Similar meetings are held in Brazil through the Canadian organization's sister body, Camara do Comercio, Brasil-Canada. Canada's busy embassy in Brasilia and recently elevated consulate generals in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are also involved with both organizations.

The result of these many Brazilian contacts was a record $1 billion in two-way trade between Brazil and Canada in 1980.

The success of the two organizations is a results to a large degree of their two dynamic executive directors. CALA's executive director, is Bolivian-born Keith O. Hillyer, engineer and trilingual son of Baptist missionary parents. He has increased corporate membership from about 147 firms when he joined three years ago to 246 at present.


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