Expanding trade with Asia is a priority for Canada, the country's finance minister, Jim Flaherty, said Tuesday. Canada must respond to a fundamental shift that has the world looking to Asia for economic opportunity, Flaherty said in a keynote address that closed the two-day conference of "Canada in the Pacific Century," held by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Flaherty said he hopes that Canadian businesses could pursue markets in the rapidly accelerating Asia-Pacific region with the help of a series of trade promotion agreements. The minister pointed to the country's negotiations for a membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and a proposed free trade agreement with Japan. "Our country's long-term prosperity is linked to reaching beyond our borders for economic opportunities that serve to boost Canada's exports and investments," he said. "Deepening our relations with large and fast-growing export markets around the world is a key part of keeping Canada strong and growing," Flaherty added. The minister said he would "strengthen Canada's profile" in Asia next month when he attends the meetings of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and G7 finance ministers. He also urged the private sector to take advantage of all strengths and investments to create jobs and promote the economy, since the government has lowered corporate taxes and reduced red tape for businesses.