Madam Chair, I am very pleased to be here this evening.
I will be speaking for about 10 minutes, Madam Chair.
The Prime Minister gave me a very clear mandate as Minister of International Trade to increase Canadian trade and attract job-creating investors to Canada by expanding the economic opportunities offered to all Canadians. I am proud to say that the government has made significant progress on that front, but a lot of work remains to be done.
There is a growing recognition that when it comes to international trade, business as usual is no longer an option. Many people, especially those working hard to join the middle class, feel that trade and globalization have not worked for them. In response, we have options: protectionism, the status quo, or we can rethink the method, form, and function of free and fair trade in the world.
This government believes that we can do better. It is trade that has helped build this country into a top 10 global economy with the world's 30th largest population. With a population representing about 0.5% of the world population, we represent about 2.5% of global trade. I have been saying around the world that trade is in the DNA of Canadians, so for us, protectionism is not an option.
Likewise, the status quo is unacceptable. It is holding us back while others continue to move forward. Not only do Canadians rightfully expect us to keep pace with global trends in international trade, but they also expect us to actively participate in all trade programs.
If we do not seek the social licence to implement an ambitious trade program, we will succumb to the forces that oppose it.
To that end, our government is pursuing a new progressive trade agenda. At its most basic level, progressive trade is about ensuring that all segments of society can take advantage of, and otherwise benefit from, the opportunities that flow from trade and investment.
In concrete terms, this means that we will give more consideration to the interests and ambitions of smaller companies, especially those owned by women, young people, new immigrants, and indigenous entrepreneurs by bringing them to the forefront so they can realize their full potential.
To help Canadian jurisdictions attract global investment, we will be investing $218 million over the next five years to create the invest in Canada hub, a new federal body dedicated to attracting leading global firms to Canada to support middle-class prosperity by bringing good jobs, fresh capital, and new technologies to our economy.
We will also enhance our trade promotion support to Canadian businesses to ensure that they can take advantage of the opportunities created by trade agreements.
As Minister of International Trade, I play a leading role in promoting the benefits of trade with Canada as well as Canada's attractiveness as an investment location at the international level. In that sense, I consider myself to be Canada's chief marketing officer, of sorts.
Together with my officials in Canada's world-class trade commissioner service, I am pursuing four parallel avenues of action.
First, I am engaging with Canadian firms, especially small and medium-sized businesses, to encourage their participation in international trade while cultivating relationships with our major long-standing exporters responsible for the bulk of our exports to ensure we are aware of their trade development priorities and any market access concerns. At the same time, I am reaching out to high-value foreign investors to promote Canada's attractiveness as an investment location to the highest level within major international business.
Lastly, I am promoting Canadian capabilities in the most promising sectors, namely aerospace, the automotive industry, clean technology, the oil and gas industry, and forestry at major trade shows and trade missions.
My international commitment is also focused on key markets that present the greatest potential for Canada. Now more than ever is the best time to diversify our markets. This includes high-growth emerging markets as well as established trade partners, especially those with whom we have free trade agreements.
Finally, as far as our progressive trade agenda goes, I will be communicating with Canadians to sustain support for the global trading system here at home and to promote awareness of the benefits of trade and investment for Canadians, Canadian businesses, and Canada's economic prosperity. As the so-called chief marketing officer, the Prime Minister has instructed me in his mandate letter to increase the support provided to Canadian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that flow after trade agreements are signed.
In other words, and my colleagues would join me in this, it is about making trade real for people. Trade deals for people mean better jobs for our middle class, more choice and better prices for our consumers, and a chance for SMEs to export around the world.
That is why Global Affairs Canada created the free trade agreement promotion task force, which is responsible for working with businesses in order to help them identify and reap the benefits of these agreements. The task force has mobilized business associations in order to come up with a new model for promoting free trade agreements so they can ensure follow-up.
Our priority is to promote the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic trade agreement, commonly known as CETA. I am delighted that Bill C-30 received royal assent yesterday, and I am pleased to point out that CETA should be provisionally in effect very soon.
I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the work of my colleagues and members of the Standing Committee on International Trade, who worked so hard to make this agreement a reality for Canadians. It took vision to begin the discussions over a decade ago. Today, all around the globe, it is the right agreement at the right time, not only for Canada and Europe, but also for the entire world.
We are also undertaking promotional activities to support other trade agreements, such as the Canada–Korea Free Trade Agreement, which came into force on January 1, 2016, and as my colleague, the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, was saying, the Canada–Ukraine free trade agreement, which is expected to be applied some time this summer. Once CETA is in force, Canadian companies will enjoy unprecedented duty-free access to a market of more than 500 million consumers and a GDP of over $22 trillion.
I often say around the world that Canada soon will have preferential market access to about 1.1 billion consumers. This is a fact that is noted around the world. We are becoming a bridge between the Pacific and the Atlantic. That, with our progressive trade agenda, is being noted around the world. Canada will be one of only a handful of countries that have guaranteed preferential access to both the U.S. and the EU, which together account for nearly half the world's economic output.
For most exporters, the most visible component of CETA is undoubtedly the elimination of tariffs in all sectors. Presently, only 25% of EU tariff lines on Canadian goods are duty-free. That number will rise to 98% as soon as the provisional application of the agreement takes effect and to 99% once all of the tariffs have been phased out. Over 9,000 tariff lines will be duty-free when the provisional application takes effect. This will create opportunities for people in the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and across the country, including the territories. All Canadian communities will benefit from this agreement, the most progressive agreement Canada and the European Union have ever negotiated.