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Make a statement in the House of Commons!
Richmond Centre Electoral District
The following is a transcript:
Hon. Alice Wong (Richmond Centre, CPC):
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-30, an act to implement the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, CETA.
I would like to first acknowledge my Conservative colleagues, the Right Hon. Steven Harper, the hon. member for Abbotsford, and the hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster. Thanks to their dedication and hard work over the past few years, this agreement has now been made possible.
CETA will give Canadian firms new and secure opportunities to supply both goods and services to all 28 member states of the European Union. While this trade agreement has many different components, all of which provide immense opportunities for the Canadian economy, I will be focusing my speech on the implications this agreement has on the business and private sectors in Canada.
An early study of this agreement, when it was in the negotiating stage in the last government, indicated that a trade agreement with the European Union would likely result in almost 80,000 new jobs for Canadians. This is exactly what the Canadian economy needs now: jobs. One of the reoccurring aspects of CETA is the agreement to eliminate almost all trade tariffs for Canadian goods and services. It is expected that 99% of tariff lines to the EU will be duty-free once the agreement is fully implemented. By eliminating this type of trade barrier, Canadian producers will have increased access to the EU market and a competitive edge over other global producers who do not have the same kind of trade agreement.
As the critic for small business, I hear this conversation frequently. Business owners want to have better access to global markets. This agreement will help answer that call. What smaller companies will now need to know from the government is how SMEs can become important partners in the supply chain.
To ensure that Canadian businesses are able to effectively operate in the EU market, CETA also includes a regulatory co-operation component. The regulatory co-operation forum will provide Canadian and EU regulators with information to ensure that regulatory measures in both markets are compatible and of mutual interest. This will dramatically diminish the barriers often experienced by businesses entering a new market.
In addition to Canadian-made goods, services such as management, financial, and engineering will have better access to the EU markets. Once CETA has been fully implemented, Canadian service exporters will have the same level of access and be bound by the same regulations as those service providers in the EU.
One of the most important aspects of CETA is the investment provisions. Investment is a critical way to engage with the global economy and stimulate economic growth and job creation. CETA will allow both Canadian and EU investors to capitalize on new opportunities while also ensuring stability and transparency in the market as a means of protecting their investments. There are many reasons why the EU market should wish to invest in Canada, and CETA will encourage such investment.
Although there are many positive and exciting aspects to this agreement, there are also some missing pieces. There have been several unilateral declarations made between member states that have not been agreed to by either Canada or the EU.
Additionally, while there are many positive aspects of the investment chapter of this agreement, there is still some uncertainty. As it becomes clear which provisions in the protection and investment dispute resolution aspect of the agreement will be implemented and which will be removed, I ask that the government be forthcoming on these decisions. It is important that any implications these declarations may have on our industries are explained to Canadian exporters and it is important that the Canadian best interests are maintained.
As a member of Parliament from British Columbia, I would like to also comment briefly on the many opportunities CETA will provide to my home province. Services that are critical to B.C., such as environmental services, communication technology services, and energy services, will have new and unprecedented access to the EU markets and economy.
Just last week I met with a business representative from the aerospace industry and he explained the types of growth CETA will be able to provide to his line of work. B.C. companies understand how important this agreement is and I look forward to hearing of the success they will find in the EU market. As the entire service sector is of critical component of B.C.’s GDP and employs a majority of British Columbians, this sort of competitive edge will greatly benefit the province and my riding of Richmond Centre.
B.C. also represents diverse agricultural and agrifood products from seafood to produce and is known for its high food safety standards. Opening up the market to these producers will encourage further growth and world-class excellence.
I am very pleased that, after all of the hard work done by many over the past few years, an agreement has been made. Although I have noted a few of my concerns on the agreement, I look forward to the many benefits CETA will provide to our Canadian businesses and our country on a national level. Canada will be one of a few countries that has been able to secure such access to the world’s two largest economies, the United States and the European Union, and that is something to be extremely proud of.
My next question for the current government is how we are going to deal with the trans-Pacific partnership, which the president-elect of the U.S. has openly declared that he is going to withdraw from. I have had the opportunity of joining our former prime minister, the trade minister, and the minister of agriculture to explore business opportunities in Asia in a good number of years. I certainly hope that even without the U.S., our government is able to go forward with the TPP and open up an even larger market for all Canadians.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):
Madam Speaker, CETA has been achieved over a number of years. Over the last year it has been a high priority of this government. The minister responsible has visited Europe on numerous occasions, along with the parliamentary secretary and other components of government, to ensure that we get the best deal for Canadians. We believe that the deal we have through this legislation is indeed the best deal for Canadians. It would ultimately assist Canada’s middle class and those aspiring to become part of the middle class, and as one of my colleagues indicated, all Canadians would benefit by this particular agreement.
It is generally perceived that this agreement is a good thing for Canada. It has had years of being at the table with open discussions, transparency, and accountability. It is an issue of accountability during the election period. Provinces are virtually onside with this agreement. Does the member not recognize that in regard to the TPP, something the Conservatives are really pushing, there is a process? There was an election commitment given by this Prime Minister to look at that agreement because we have a great deal of concern, something Canadians also share.
Hon. Alice Wong:
Madam Speaker, that is exactly what I have been looking for: a commitment from our current government to open even more trade markets. However, during negotiations, we should be aware of some of the barriers that might happen. That is why I mentioned a few shortcomings that the current government has not been able to handle. There is still work to do.
I must give credit to the current government for its hard work and to the whole team that has been working over a good number of years to make this a success. What we are looking for right now are the interests of Canada and all Canadians. This is exactly why, no matter what party we come from, our ultimate goal is to make sure that jobs are created and our interests are protected.
Ms. Sheri Benson (Saskatoon West, NDP):
Madam Speaker, my riding of Saskatoon West shares some of the same economic indicators as the member’s. That is, there is a large service sector, where many of the jobs are. One thing I am trying to do in the debate today is get more than slogans on trade, such as “new jobs, new prosperity”. We do not get a lot of indicators of what kind of impact it is going to have, particularly on jobs.
My colleague talked about 80,000 jobs being created. I wonder if she could let me know in what area those jobs are going to be created, how soon that will happen, and whether it will happen in the service sector. She needs to explain how that will happen. For small and medium-sized businesses to take advantage of trade deals, they need support to scale up to participate. If she would like to comment, I would appreciate it.
Hon. Alice Wong:
Madam Speaker, this is exactly why I mentioned in my speech that the government should encourage SMEs to be prepared to go into this large market. At the same time, we would also like to make sure that all the barriers are gone, because there will be certain labour agreements that allow our service providers to provide their services not only in Canada but in the EU market. Usually those services are not easily accessed if we do not have a good agreement.
This is exactly why I applaud the current government for doing a good job. Now it should follow up. For SMEs, this is a very important step. In my own riding, engineers, accountants, and other financial consultants will have good opportunities to expand their businesses to Europe.
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