Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
I would like to thank my hon. friend from Windsor for all his work on Bill . It is an excellent proposal and I look forward to voting on it on Wednesday.
Today, I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the organization that made the agreement on trade facilitation, known as the TFA, happen: the World Trade Organization.
The TFA is the first multilateral agreement concluded since the creation of the WTO over 20 years ago and is a notable success for both the organization and the multilateral trading system.
As an export-driven economy, one in five Canadian jobs depends upon exports and over 40,000 Canadians companies abroad. The WTO has played an important role in helping to liberalize trade, and trade liberalization remains vital to Canada's future.
For these reasons, Canada has been a key player in the development of robust international trade rules since the 1947 beginnings of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which later became the WTO.
The WTO remains a cornerstone of Canada's trade and investment policy and serves as a backstop against protectionism. The continued enhancement of global trade rules benefits Canada and the international community as a whole.
The WTO provides an important and effective forum for settling trade disputes, which has dealt with 500 cases in just over 20 years.
Today, 98% of global trade takes place under the WTO rule book, and the WTO's 164 members actively monitor each other's trade measures against those rules in order to improve transparency and avoid protectionism.
It is a system that continues to deliver results, as evidenced by decisions in Canada's challenge of the U.S. COOL rules; that is, country of original labelling.
The WTO delivers results in other areas too, such as the Nairobi package announced at the 10th WTO ministerial meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, late last year, which included discussions on issues important to developing and least-developed countries, including the elimination of trade-distorting export subsidies and conclusion on the expanded Information Technology Agreement, the ITA.
Once implemented, the ITA will eliminate tariffs on certain information technology products that represent around 10% of global trade, which is about $1.3 trillion annually.
The participated in the 2015 ministerial conference, where she talked about the importance of inclusive growth and shared prosperity for both developed and developing countries. We want trade and opening up of markets to help raise standards of living, empower women, and protect the environment.
The WTO better helps to integrate developing countries into a global trading system and ensures that they derive real, tangible benefits from it. The WTO also provides the technical assistance required to help improve their trading capacities.
The TFA, a multilateral undertaking, was successful in large part due to the flexibility it allows in the way new commitments are taken on, which has proven to be a crucial ingredient for the WTO's recent successes. It allows developing WTO members to implement commitments in ways commensurate with their capacity.
Under the TFA, developing members are able to divide commitments into those they can implement immediately, those for which they will require extra time, and those requiring both additional time and technical assistance. Developed economies are to facilitate the provisions of technical assistance.
Canada is well positioned to assist developing WTO members in implementing the TFA's provisions and has been refocusing development programming to promote trade facilitation reforms.
Key examples of our efforts include contributions to the World Bank's trade facilitation support program and the new Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.
The World Bank's trade facilitation support program is a multi-donor program that helps developing countries implement trade facilitation reforms in a manner consistent with the World Trade Organization's TFA. Canada donated $2 million to this worthwhile initiative.
The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, launched in December 2015, is an innovative public-private platform to ensure effective trade facilitation reforms in developing countries measured by real-world business metrics.
The key innovation of the alliance is to leverage private expertise to identify, validate, and support practical reforms that simplify customs procedures, reduce border wait times, and reduce trade costs—to which Canada contributed $10 million, as a founding donor.
The TFA has attracted widespread support from Canadian and international stakeholders, including the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and a large number of agriculture and agri-food business associations.
The TFA will only enter into force once two-thirds of WTO members have ratified the agreement. Some 92 members have already ratified the TFA. This includes our major trading partners—the United States, the European Union, China, and Japan—and Canada is expected to follow suit expeditiously. An additional 18 ratifications are required for the TFA to enter into force.
The statutory amendments contained in Bill are required to allow Canada to ratify this agreement. These amendments are designed to protect the health and safety of Canadian consumers and workers, as well as the environment, in the event that goods in transit are diverted into the Canadian market, and to clarify practices related to the treatment of rejected goods.
Canada is committed to making the world more prosperous and helping the poorest and most vulnerable reap the poverty-reduction benefits of economic growth. Canada can do its part by ratifying the TFA as quickly as possible.
I urge all hon. members to support the legislative amendments contained in Bill that will enable Canada to do our part to bring this agreement into force.
Madam Speaker, our government strongly believes that trade can serve development objectives by fostering expanded economic opportunity, productivity, and growth in Canada and around the world. The high costs of international trade disproportionately affects developing nations and the least developed countries in particular. Our government is focusing on initiatives that can both support and sustain global growth and poverty reduction, including the ratification of the World Trade Organization's agreement on trade facilitation, known as the TFA.
The TFA would streamline the flow of goods across borders by cutting red tape. It would simplify the documentation required to clear goods at the border and streamline the procedures used by border agencies. All traders would benefit from faster, simpler, and more predictable trade at the border, which translates into lower trade costs. Governments would benefit from more efficient border procedures, fewer opportunities for corruption at the border, and increased revenue collection. Lowering trade costs can increase trade, contribute to a higher national income, and reduce poverty. Countries that do more to lower trade costs, for instance by improving logistics, tend to grow more rapidly.
Most economic gains from the TFA would flow to developing countries, as developed countries, including Canada, are already compliant with the vast majority of the TFA's provisions.
Another benefit of the TFA is that is supports economic diversification in the developing world. TFA implementation could enable developing countries to both expand the types of products exported and the new markets they reach. According to the World Bank, the number of new products exported by less developed countries could increase by up to 35%. Developing economies would require technical and capacity-building assistance to implement the TFA reforms and reap the resulting poverty reduction benefits.
The TFA would allow developing countries to implement the TFA based on their capabilities and to identify their needs for assistance. It also requires developed WTO members to provide the practical support necessary to meet them. In fact, the World Bank has found that trade facilitation projects have some of the biggest returns on investment among development efforts. According to the World Bank, reducing supply chain barriers and speeding up border administration could increase GDP six times faster than tariff elimination.
Canada is well positioned to provide this assistance, having provided nearly $47 million in funding for trade facilitation assistance through a range of bilateral, regional, and multilateral programs from 2010 to 2015. For example, Canada is contributing $12 million in trade facilitation assistance, about 10% of the project's total funding, to the trademark East Africa integrated border management initiative. This initiative will significantly reduce border delays and trade costs between East African Community members—Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan—by establishing a single customs territory and supporting improvements to border and custom management practices.
Prior to this endeavour, multiple customs declarations were required on both sides of each EAC border and clearance and payment of goods could only be completed upon arrival at the destination. Clearing customs was a slow process. This trade facilitation initiative helps integrate customs procedures through automation and the establishment of a one-stop border post. Ports in the EAC now operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a result, average cargo clearance times have been reduced from three days to eight hours within the EAC.
Results like these have the potential to lift millions out of poverty. TFA implementation could replicate results like these elsewhere.
The TFA's potential will be fully shown when it enters into force. This will only occur once two-thirds of the WTO members have ratified it. To date, 92 of the required 110 WTO members have ratified this agreement. The legislative amendments contained in Bill would enable Canada to ratify the TFA to help bring it into effect as soon as possible.
To enable Canada to do its part in unlocking the benefits of this agreement, I strongly urge all members of the House to support Bill .
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this important legislation. Before I do that, I will quickly join with the NDP member in welcoming this year's new pages and wishing them all the best. We thank them for their service to us in this chamber.
Bill is important, and it is a bright spot in a rather gloomy broader situation in terms of both the government's approach to trade and some of the challenges we see in the global discussion around trade. We support Bill . We see it as very much that bright spot, but I will discuss some of my concerns about the broader environment as well.
In spite of its desire to, it seems, reverse almost every good decision that the previous Conservative government made, this is one case in which the new government has fortunately chosen to carry forward something that was initially begun under our government, and in this case, we appreciate that it is in fact moving forward.
The government has brought forward legislation which I think all parties will support, at least at this stage, on the trade facilitation agreement to implement that. This agreement deals with non-tariff barriers. Just by way of brief explanation perhaps for those who are watching, we could talk about formal trade barriers, prohibitions on trade, or tariff requirements that in order to trade in a country, we pay a certain tax. However, then there is also non-tariff barriers, cases where there is maybe a misalignment in regulations, certain policies which, perhaps not intending to stymie trade or at least not facially about trade, have the effect of making trade very difficult.
This trade facilitation agreement is about confronting those non-tariff barriers to trade, those rules and regulations where, because of disharmony in regulations perhaps between different countries, trade is not able to effectively happen.
This trade facilitation agreement was concluded in December 2013 at the WTO ministerial conference. It is the first multilateral trade agreement concluded since the creation of the WTO. Therefore, it is an important step insofar as many of the trade agreements that we have talked about recently, the bilateral trade agreements between two countries or perhaps the trade agreements between regional blocs. However, this is conceived on a much broader, truly multilateral basis and it is about a much greater share of the world stepping forward together. It is very positive that we are able to move forward on that multilateral basis in this respect. It provides for modernization and simplification of various customs and border procedures.
We know this trade deal will have a significant positive impact for the Canadian economy and for the global economy. The WTO estimates that the full implementation of this trade deal would boost merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion, which is very significant opportunities for all WTO members, specifically providing substantial benefits for developing as well as developed countries, including benefits for least-developed countries. Even if not every country in the WTO fully implements this agreement, we still will see many of those same positive effects.
We see particular benefits coming from Bill to small and medium-sized enterprises. We know that small businesses are the principal job creators in our economy. Especially for small businesses, these non-tariff barriers, the requirement to actually come to terms with and understand what may be discordant and complex regulations in different jurisdictions can be a real barrier to trade. In some cases it may be a much more significant barrier to trade than the more formal and identified trade barriers.
We are in a situation right now, and it is important as I get into talking about the context to recognize this, where there are many specific threats to small business coming from policies of the government. We saw a decision of the government in the budget, for example, not to follow through on an election promise to lower the small business tax break. An effective tax increase was imposed on small businesses which had been planning for that reduction.
At the same time, to many people's surprise, the government decided to eliminate the small business hiring credit. We have a government that talks about jobs, yet the most explicitly pro-jobs policy, a hiring credit for small business, was then eliminated as part of the budget. We also have the introduction of payroll taxes coming up with regard to the Liberals' proposed expansion of the CPP.
Therefore, if we look at these things together, it is specifically attacking jobs for small business, with the elimination of the hiring credit, the new proposed payroll tax, and the effective increase on small business taxes.
As I said, it is good to say that we have one bright spot in this rather dismal legislative agenda as far as it affects small business, which is the trade agreement that we have through trade facilitation. It is going to hopefully have a very positive impact for small businesses being able to access international markets.
We have talked more broadly as part of this debate already about the issue of a trade agenda. What was our government's trade agenda, and what is the current government trying to do on trade?
My friend for talked about the government having an aggressive trade agenda. He cited as the example of this the fact that the Liberals had continued forward with the Canada-Ukraine free trade deal, which was in fact something that we all know was very much started under the previous government. Therefore, an aggressive trade agenda is continuing forward with one thing that the previous government was doing.
I want to acquaint my friends across the way with what an aggressive trade agenda actually looks like. These were the trade deals that were not just negotiated but brought into force under the previous Conservative government.
The Canada-Korea free trade deal, the most recent one, was brought into force on January 1, 2015. There were also the Canada-Honduras trade deal, the Canada-Panama trade deal, the Canada-Jordan trade deal, the Canada-Colombia trade deal, Canada-Peru trade deal, and the deal with the Canada-European Free Trade Association, not to be confused with the Canada-EU trade deal, but we signed a trade deal and brought it into force with the Canada-European Free Trade Association. These were all brought into force under the previous Conservative government. We also, of course, negotiated the Canada-EU trade deal, and the Liberals are doing their best to screw that up. Hopefully it will succeed nonetheless. Of course, there are the negotiations of the Canada trans-Pacific partnership and trade deal.
We had various negotiations launched with a wide range of different countries: Costa Rica, Singapore, Morocco, Japan, India, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and with the Caribbean community. Many important trade deals were brought into force, negotiated, or for which current negotiations are going on.
Previously, before Stephen Harper took office, there was a limited set of trade deals. We had Canada-Chile, Canada-Israel, and Canada-U.S. Of course, we know that the Canada-Israel trade deal was updated under our government, and the Canada-U.S. was very successfully negotiated by the previous Conservative government under Brian Mulroney.
That is what an aggressive trade agenda actually looks like. It is telling that the Liberals talk about trade, they say they are supportive of trade, but we are not at all seeing strong efforts to expand Canada's international markets.
If we are able to bring into force trade deals with the EU and with the trans-Pacific partnership, we will have preferential trade access to countries representing over 60% of the world's GDP. That would be very significant for Canadian businesses of all sizes. Yet, we are not seeing action, we are not seeing leadership from the government. The Liberals would rather coast. They would rather wait and see, which is disappointing, because we know the benefits of trade and see the benefits of an aggressive trade agenda.
Again, Bill is a bright spot, but we are not seeing leadership when it comes to the trade file from the current government.
We are in a context where leadership on the trade file is very badly needed. We are seeing different kinds of threats to global trade. I would put those threats in three different categories. We are hearing the classic anti-trade arguments from two different kinds of sources. We are also hearing from what I would call the punters, the people who do not want to take a position on trade one way or the other and are therefore, rather than showing leadership, just continually punting it down the road.
Looking at the conversation happening in the midst of the American election, we are hearing a lot of conventional anti-trade arguments from both sides of the spectrum. What is striking, and I got these numbers from a Globe and Mail story, is that the discourse we are hearing in American politics does not reflect American public opinion when it comes to trade. Americans and Canadians understand the benefits of trade. They understand the benefits of our trading relationship and of broader trading relationships. Here are some numbers on that. According to Gallup, just 33% of Americans view trade as a threat. That is down from a peak of 52% during the financial crisis of 2008. Thirty-three per cent is a historic low when it comes to opposition to trade within that country.
The Pew Research Center tracks opinions on trade and just under 40% of Americans have said that trade agreements are a bad thing. Therefore, it obviously leaves a strong majority of people on the other side of things. We have an opportunity to pursue trade and to talk about it if we have politicians throughout the world who are willing to show leadership in their defence of the idea of an open economy. That we can prosper together, not in opposition to each other, is important and an idea that needs to be defended by leaders across the globe.
We hear the opponents of trade talk about trade being about winners and losers. People might have heard a claim that we do not win anymore when it comes to trade, but this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what trade is all about. On Saturday, I took my daughter, Gianna, to a model train show and spent $10 to get in. If I had this winner or loser view of economic interaction, I might ask who is winning, me or the model train show? That is obviously a ridiculous question. We are both winning. We are engaging in mutually beneficial economic exchange.
When I go to the grocery store, who is winning, me or the grocery store? Actually we are both winning. Trade is all about that. It is through free commercial exchange, businesses and individuals or different countries benefit together. Therefore, it is a mistake to think that trade is somehow about who is going to win and who is going to lose. It is about developing agreements that allow for collective prosperity.
On the other side of the anti-trade argument, we might hear those who talk about environmental and labour standards, and this is very important, but sometimes I feel that those who invoke these arguments are not actually looking at the trade deals in question. Modern trade deals, and especially the trans-Pacific partnership, are designed to protect the environment, labour rights, various kinds of human rights, and they are precisely about democratic countries, in the case of TPP, Canada, the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other partners. Obviously, there are human rights concerns with certain countries that are part of TPP, but the structure of that deal creates an opportunity to set rules in trade that respect the environment, labour rights, and other human rights considerations.
We need to be discerning about how we approach these issues, but TPP was a deal championed by President Obama and by people across a range of different perspectives, whether they identified as progressives or perhaps with other kinds of labels. It is interesting to hear at the same time some in our politics invoking these other kinds of objections to TPP, whether it is environmental and labour standards or the discussion of winners and losers, without understanding what trade is all about and without actually appreciating what is in the deal and the real benefits it provides economically as well as when it comes to these various other considerations.
Those are the classic anti-trade arguments. It is critical for politicians of courage, for politicians who understand the value of the open economy, who understand that we can prosper together, not in opposition to each other, to stand up and defend the idea of the open economy.
We hear some of these classic anti-trade arguments from the NDP. From the government, it is just this constant desire to punt the trade discussion. It is not leading on trade. It is not trying to move forward on new trade initiatives. It is half-heartedly continuing some of the things that the previous government did while wanting to punt the conversation on other issues, especially on the trans-Pacific partnership.
Frankly, we all know what is going on here. The government does not really want to take a strong position on TPP until it sees the way the winds are blowing in other countries. That has never been good enough for Canada in the past, just waiting to see what other countries are doing and then following the way the wind is blowing.
If we are going to be a legislature of conviction, if we believe in the importance of international openness and of the open economy, then Canada could take a stand and lead on it. It could say, in response to some of the rhetoric that we are hearing south of the border and elsewhere, that trade is important. It is not about winning or losing. It is about all of us profiting together. It is about all of us working together to improve our economic situation, as well as human rights.
The government's way of punting is to continually refer to consultation. Of course any kind of authentic consultation has an end point. One consults, gets the information, gathers and synthesizes the information, and then provides feedback and makes a decision. Ultimately, we are elected here to consult, to receive feedback, and then to make decisions.
The government is not actually doing that. It is using the veneer of consultation to avoid making a decision, to punt in the hope that somebody else will make a decision before it has to. The government is missing an opportunity to lead, and it will not even tell us what the plan is in terms of when it will make a decision. We have not heard any answers on that. It has been a year since the election and since TPP was initially negotiated. The government needs to be leading on the issue of the open economy, but frankly I do not have much of an expectation that is going to happen.
I want to say as well that there is a strategic consideration at play in these international trade deals. The government seems to be getting this strategic balance wrong. It is very important when it comes to trade, when it comes to international activity in general, that we be working in concert with like-minded allies. It is not that we do not talk to countries that perhaps have a different set of values than we do, that do not respect human rights. It is not that we do not talk to those countries, but that we work in particular with our allies to try to set rules, to try to set mechanisms in place that protect international human rights, that protect and advance our values.
That is what TPP, in large part, was all about. It was about those strategic considerations. It was about like-minded democratic countries, primarily, along with some others, working to set the rules of trade, so that intellectual property would be respected, so that human rights would be respected, and so that the environment would be respected.
We have a government that is continually punting on TPP, yet is now talking about the possibility of a bilateral trade deal with China. It is hard to know how sincere it even is about that. What sense does it make to say no, or to at least avoid making a decision, when we have the opportunity to be working with our allies, and yet at the same time to be talking about prioritizing trade with a country that does not respect human rights, that does not share our values, and with whom there are significant concerns when it comes to things like respect for basic intellectual property?
There is a missed opportunity here to lead on trade in a way that reflects our values, that reflects our interests, and that also advances our economic situation. It is unfortunate that the government is not taking more of a cue from the previous government, in terms of what was a genuinely aggressive trade agenda.
I am encouraged by Bill . I look forward to supporting it. As I have said, I do see this as a bright spot, but there are some significant overall challenges that we need to be confronting. We need to have a more aggressive trade agenda. We need to have a government that is willing to speak in favour of the open economy. I hope we will see some changes on that in the near future.
Madam Speaker, this morning, I am pleased to be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak on the subject of Bill , which would make a few legislative changes needed to bring us into full compliance with the World Trade Organization agreement on trade facilitation.
The 2015 Speech from the Throne and the 's priorities are clear. This government is focused on creating opportunities by pursuing policies that create growth and ensuring that growth produces tangible results for all.
The agreement on trade facilitation, concluded at the WTO ministerial conference in December 2013, is the first multilateral agreement concluded since the creation of the World Trade Organization. It reinforces the important role of the WTO as a negotiating forum for global trade rules. The agreement provides for the modernization and simplification of customs and border procedures by all WTO members.
By playing a key role in the negotiation of the TFA and its ratification, Canada would demonstrate its support for the agreement and the WTO. The TFA supports the government's efforts to promote trade and development and provides another vehicle to increase prosperity in developing countries.
All WTO members agreed to the conclusion of negotiations on the agreement on trade facilitation at the December 2013 WTO ministerial conference and all WTO members will become parties once they ratify the agreement.
Multilateral trade negotiations can sometimes be difficult to relate to the day-to-day workings of business. However, the TFA is not a theoretical agreement; it is about making trade work better for everyone. It is important that Canada move to quickly ratify the TFA.
For traders, the TFA will ensure faster, simpler, and more predictable cross-border trade, translating into lower costs. The TFA's provisions will apply to trade in all goods between WTO members.
As my hon. colleagues on both sides of the aisle have mentioned several times, the WTO estimates that full implementation of the agreement on trade facilitation by WTO members could boost global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion, including the up to $730 billion in export opportunities it will accrue to developing countries, and decrease trade costs for WTO members by an average of 14%, including an average of nearly 17% for least-developed countries.
The implementation of the TFA will cut red tape, enhance the predictability of trade, and reduce the costs and delays of trading at international borders for Canadian exports. In fact, the WTO estimates that the TFA will reduce trade costs by over 14% on average globally, including 17% for the least-developed countries.
As we know, lowering trade costs can increase trade, contribute to a higher national income and, indeed, reduce poverty. It can drive the growing participation of developing nations and small- and medium-sized enterprises in the world economy. In fact, countries that do more to lower trade costs, for instance, by improving logistics, tend to grow more rapidly.
Here I would reflect on an experience I had. I spent many years working in East Africa. I was able to see how the East African Community, through trade negotiations and the opening up of trade, was able to grow its regional economy significantly. While I was there, I was able to see significant growth of over 10% in Uganda alone, which allowed that government to implement, for the first time, free primary education for its youth. All of this is to say that the opening up of trade can have a very significant impact, not only on small- and medium-sized enterprises and Canadian business but also on developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa.
Canada has provided over $65 million in funding for trade facilitation assistance to developing countries since 2008. Canada has also partnered with TradeMark East Africa, contributing $12 million to its integrated border management project, and has provided $2 million in funding for the World Bank Group's trade facilitation support program launched in 2014 to facilitate the implementation of the TFA.
It is also worth noting that Canada is also a founding donor to the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, a public-private platform that would support the TFA implementation efforts of developing countries by leveraging private sector expertise, leadership, and resources to achieve commercially meaningful reforms all around the world. Canada is contributing $10 million to the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation over seven years, from 2015 to 2022.
These lower trade costs, along with enhanced timelines and predictability in the delivery of intermediate goods. It will also drive growing participation by small and medium-sized enterprises in world trade, particularly as the high cost of international trade currently disproportionately affect SMEs, as well as developing nations. SMEs would be better positioned to export their goods once the TFA is ratified.
Helping SMEs reduce trading costs, as many in the House would agree, would also benefit women in developing countries. The World Bank estimates that 8 million to 10 million SMEs in the developing world have at least one female owner. Studies in recent years have shown just what kind of impact investments in women can have all around the world, particularly in developing nations. Economic growth has skyrocketed when there is significant investment in empowering women to get involved in enterprise and become business owners. There is a reduction in child mortality rates and an increase in education rates. Innovation is strengthened. This ratification would have significant impacts not just for Canada but also for developing nations.
While the TFA's provisions complement those found in the trade facilitation chapters of Canada's free trade agreements, this agreement addresses a broader range of trade facilitation measures, since the TFA is a specialized agreement that reflects the more diverse priorities of all WTO members. The trade facilitation provisions in Canada's free trade agreements have to date focused on Canada's priorities, including transparency, release of goods, risk management, and the advance issuance of decisions on tariff classifications.
These interests are well reflected in the TFA, and because they would apply to all ratifying WTO members, they would serve to advance Canada's interests with countries with whom it does not have an FTA.
The agreement on fair trade facilitation will enter into force when two-thirds of the members have completed their domestic ratification procedures and submitted their instruments of acceptance to the WTO. As of today, 92 of the required members have ratified the agreement on trade facilitation. While there is no specific deadline for WTO members to ratify the agreement, G20 leaders are committed to ratifying the agreement by the end of 2016 and called on all WTO members at the G20 leaders' summit in Hangzhou, China in September 2016 to do the same
Our government is committed to ratifying the agreement as soon as possible, and we encourage all members on both sides of the aisle to do the same.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak today on the World Trade Organization's trade facilitation agreement, commonly referred to as the TFA, and Bill .
Trade facilitation generally refers to the simplification, harmonization, and standardization of the controls governing the movement of goods across national borders. In Canada, this generally covers policies and measures implemented by the Canada Border Services Agency, the CBSA, and partners that operate at the border, such as Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The TFA is designed to make trade faster, cheaper, and more predictable, as a lack of transparency, multiple documentation requirements, and lengthy clearance processes increase trade costs. Global value chains, just-in-time delivery systems, e-commerce, and the fast nature of transactions today require quick and reliable border crossings and clearance processes.
Since simplified trade procedures benefit all trade partners, trade facilitation reforms are best addressed on a multilateral basis. The WTO TFA helps provide a global foundation that will extend trade facilitation, modernization, and its benefits to WTO members once it enters into force.
WTO members started negotiations toward a TFA in 2004, and negotiations concluded in December 2013. This major accomplishment was a major gain for the global trading community and the WTO, as global trade rules were developed to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods.
The WTO estimates that trade costs will be reduced by an average of over 14%, including an average reduction of nearly 17% for least-developed countries, and that the implementation of the TFA could boost global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion, including up to $730 billion for developing countries. Even in the event that some WTO members do not move to fully implement the TFA, the real-world impact will be significant. Mechanisms are in place to assist developing countries to implement the TFA.
The implementation of the TFA would benefit Canadian traders by expediting, streamlining, and enhancing the predictability of customs and border procedures for their exports to developing countries, which translates into lower trade costs. The benefits are expected to be most significant for small and medium-sized enterprises for whom trade costs are disproportionately high. The implementation of the TFA by developing countries could help Canada's SMEs increase their export presence in emerging markets, from Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa and Southeast Asia.
The TFA will enter into force once ratified by two-thirds of the WTO members. As of today, 92 of the required 110 WTO members have ratified the TFA. That includes Canada's major trading partners, the United States, the European Union, China, and Japan. The sooner the TFA can enter into force, the sooner the global trade community will be able to reap its benefits.
Canada is already compliant with most of the TFA's provisions. The proposed amendments within Bill would allow Canada to implement two specific provisions of the TFA while maintaining safeguards on the health and safety of Canadians and the environment. Bill proposes amendments to six Canadian statutes, which fall under the responsibility of Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, in order to ensure compliance with the TFA. Bill C-13 would lead to greater consistency in how goods are treated at the border and facilitate the transit of goods through Canada.
More specifically, Bill addresses two specific TFA provisions: one, article 10.8.1, which deals with the treatment of non-compliant goods rejected at the border; and two, article 11.8, which deals with goods in transit.
Article 10.8 of the TFA requires WTO members to allow importers to return to exporters goods rejected on account of their failure to meet certain health and other technical requirements. It also includes an exemption, which allows a WTO member to dispose of non-compliant goods in alternative ways, where this is provided for in its laws.
Bill would identify criteria under which non-compliant goods could be either, one, returned or re-consigned, or two, seized, detained, forfeited, or disposed of. The proposed amendments would provide Canada with the necessary authority to take action regarding certain non-compliant goods shipped to Canada, including in order to avoid having to maintain indefinite care and control of non-compliant and dangerous goods.
Amendments designed to ensure compliance with TFA article 10.8.1 are proposed to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, the Food and Drugs Act, the Hazardous Products Act, the Pest Control Products Act, and the Radiation Emitting Devices Act.
Bill would also enable Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada to comply with article 11.8 of the TFA. This provision prohibits the application of technical regulations to goods moving through a WTO member's territory from a point outside its territory to another foreign point; for example, goods in transit.
Currently, certain provisions of the Food and Drugs Act, the Pest Control Products Act, the Radiation Emitting Devices Act, and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, prohibit the transit through Canada of certain goods that do not comply with Canadian technical regulations. Bill would create the legal authority to allow the government to exempt goods in transit through Canada from these technical regulations, thus helping to facilitate trade.
For some of these statutes, conditions would be imposed which, among other things, first, would identify goods in transit that may not comply with Canadian technical regulations in the event that the goods are diverted into the Canadian market and, second, provide oversight on products, such as certain pesticides and pharmaceutical drugs, not captured under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992, which are currently not permitted to transit through Canada but will be, once the TFA is implemented. This oversight maintains safeguards protecting the environment and the health and safety of persons who may come into contact with such goods.
I urge all hon. members to support this bill, which would enable Canada to do its part to bring this agreement into force and ensure that the health and safety of Canadians and the environment remains protected.
Madam Speaker, I appreciate having this opportunity to speak on Bill .
This bill is an important piece of legislation, and I urge all of my colleagues to support the ratification power it possesses, because it brings Canada into the fold with the rest of our World Trade Organization partners, which is vital for Canada as we move forward in the new economy.
Bills of this nature simplify procedures, and as has been said in the House before, help cut red tape, expedite the release and clearance of goods, reduce costs associated with processing, which is extremely important for our competitiveness, and make international trade more predictable for Canadians and more predictable for Canadian businesses that want to make new investments and build our economy.
Most importantly, steps to ratify trade agreements need to be taken to avoid putting Canada on the outside of free trade agreements with our WTO partners. This is a very important point. Many countries, including our largest trading partners and fellow NAFTA members, Mexico and the U.S., have either done so or are actively working toward ratifying agreements, particularly agreements such as the TPP. I am happy that we are having this debate. It is important that we ratify the powers in Bill .
I also want to talk about the overall picture. Right now, the Liberals have a very important agreement on the table. If we believe that today is an important step forward, and we want to believe what the Liberals are saying, we have to look at what they are saying but also at their actions, because actions speak louder than words. The reality is that, to date, the Liberals have made no attempt to ratify the TPP agreement. This lack of action by the government is a large risk for the Canadian economy.
The Liberals must realize that trade has the power to grow our economy without spending billions of dollars. That is the commitment we are seeing from the Liberal government. Instead of moving forward on agreements that are on the table in front of them, they seem to be focused on spending billions of dollars. When we look at the Conservatives' approach versus their approach, much of the work on the agreement we are talking about today was done by the previous government. I applaud and support it, but we are now moving forward at an accelerated pace. The government has to take a big picture view of what is going on with the different trade agreements, whether it is the European trade agreement or the TPP.
The Liberals are standing on the largest trade agreement in over 20 years. Stalling on the ratification of the TPP agreement will only put Canada further behind, when Canada should be moving ahead. It is clear that not signing this agreement will damage our economy and reduce the global supply chain, which will ultimately lead to job losses. We have seen the latest numbers. We cannot afford that.
Signing the TPP would send a clear message to Canadian businesses, and this is extremely important, because, first, it would give our exporters the opportunity to prepare and take advantage of preferential market access. Second, it would lower tariffs. I think everyone is in agreement that this is a good thing. Third, it would remove trade barriers. Fourth, and what is very important for the economy of Ontario, it would further integrate global supply chains.
I am the MP for Oshawa. Trade agreements have a lot of implications for my riding. It is the home of the General Motors assembly plant. Today we got some good news; it was able to get an agreement with Unifor. I applaud GM and Unifor for coming to an agreement, because the reality for the business world and labour is that the world will be doing business in a new way.
A really important point for me, as a local representative, is that our NAFTA partners are moving forward to ratify the TPP. The presidents of Mexico and the United States were here, and one of the things they talked about was how they are moving forward to ratify this agreement. If they ratify it and we do not, it is going to be devastating to manufacturing and our local economies. Consider that 80% of Canadian vehicles are made for export. Having access to new global markets, and over 800 million potential new customers, with the TPP is going to be significant.
To put that in context, the European free trade agreement would mean 400 million new customers. This would give Canada exclusive access to both markets.
It is important to take a moment to explain exactly what that means. It means that Canada will be unique in the world. Unique among our trading partners, it will have preferred access to Europe and preferred access to the Asia Pacific. That is 1.2 billion people. That is huge.
What we are seeing from the government is further dithering on the European free trade agreement, which was ready to go under our government. The TPP is ready to go. We see President Obama and the Mexican president moving forward, and what is happening with the Liberal government? It is dithering.
The numbers involved for GDP are $29 trillion. Access to these markets would give Oshawa a competitive advantage in the production of vehicles at our assembly plants. They would be destined for new and existing markets. We are going to have a unique opportunity to manufacture in Oshawa. We will have access to Europe and the Asia Pacific. Therefore, there is a need to connect Canada with the global supply chain. This would allow Oshawa and all of Canada to grow competitively and to continue to show investors that doing business in Canada is profitable.
With access to new markets, Canada would not only benefit from cost savings but would be on par with our fellow NAFTA countries, and this is extremely important. Ratification of the TPP would allow Canada to have the same preferential market access as other TPP countries. Not signing the TPP would make Canada suffer, as these markets would be accessible to our largest trading partners, the United States and Mexico, and we would be out of the deal. Both the U.S. and Mexico would be more competitive, and investment would be driven away from Canada.
The previous Conservative government laid the groundwork in a negotiation process to ensure that Canadians would prosper as a result of trade relations that were freshly established in these markets, because it is the new way of doing business.
A report released by the Office of the Chief Economist from Global Affairs Canada includes important observations on what the TPP would do to benefit Canada as well as on the consequences if Canada does not sign this important agreement. I would like to take a moment to go over some of the benefits.
First of all, there would be a boost to Canada's GDP of 0.127%, generating a GDP gain of $4.3 billion by 2040.
The TPP would liberalize barriers to trade and provide estimated tariffs savings of $428 million per year for Canadian exporters.
Auto companies, which currently do not have access to Japan on an equal playing field, would now have that access. This is something auto companies have been asking for years.
The most significant benefit would be a $1.1 billion export increase to Japan, with exports of pork, beef, and wood products leading the way.
Canada cannot afford to remain on the outside. Not signing the TPP would lead to GDP losses of $5.3 billion. Canadian automotive production and investment would both decline by 4%, and the way it would affect our global supply chain would be catastrophic.
Canadian beef exports to Japan would fall by more than 66%, and pork exports to Japan would drop by 13%.
Canada's exports to TPP countries in 2014 accounted for 81.1% of the total value of Canadian exports, totalling $759.4 billion.
In conclusion, my message is simple. Today we are looking at Bill , and that is a great opportunity, but we must also ratify the TPP. Canadians, especially businesses, deserve the advantages and opportunities the TPP can offer. The significance of trade cannot be ignored by the Liberals.
Canada cannot fall behind, especially now, and especially when trade has the power to significantly increase the total GDP of Canada without spending billions of dollars, which seems to be what the Liberals are obsessed with doing.
I want to take this opportunity to encourage my colleagues here in the House to support any of these agreements that facilitate trade.
I want to bring up an important point I have been trying to get the Liberals to address today. On one side, they seem to be talking about increasing business and increasing trade, which I think everyone agrees is a good thing, except maybe the NDP. On the other side, the Liberals are bringing in policies that are hurting our competitiveness internationally. I wanted to talk a little about that.
When we are talking about trade agreements, we are talking about the competitiveness of Canada versus other parts of the world. Recently the government brought in changes to the CPP. This is something I have been talking to my business community about.
What the Liberals are proposing to bring forward would cost Canadian businesses up to $2,000 per employee. Let us put that into perspective. General Motors has 3,000 employees in Oshawa. If we do the math, that is a significant increase in cost for doing business in Canada. It would also mean that individual Canadians would have to match that. Now we are talking about $2,000 for the employer and $2,000 extra that employees would have to put into this plan that many will not have access to.
We want to talk about the competitiveness of our energy policies. I have brought up the example of Ontario. We have seen what the Ontario policies are doing to our competitiveness in the manufacturing field. Right now, Ontario is so worried it has backtracked somewhat on its electricity policy, because it has realized how much of a concern it is.
We are looking at a policy that has basically contributed to the loss of 300,000 good-quality manufacturing jobs in Ontario. The federal Liberals are supporting these policies moving forward in Ontario and are parroting its policies and bringing them into the federal jurisdiction.
That leads to the next issue I need to talk about. I need to get clarification today from the Liberals. I want to talk about the carbon tax.
We know that the people we compete against the most, Michigan for example, do not have a state carbon tax. Texas does not have a state carbon tax. Texas has a cost of energy that is 75% less than it is in Ontario.
The and the have been very clear that they are actually going to be bringing in a carbon tax federally. I do not think the uncertainty of this can be overemphasized. Companies, when they are making investments in our economy, are making investments over a 10-year or 15-year period. Instead of getting certainty from the government, all they are getting is uncertainty.
The only certainty companies are getting is that it is going to cost more to do business. We are talking about the CPP costs, energy costs, and carbon taxes. It would drive up the cost of everything. What we are talking about in our factories is increased costs for heating factories. We are talking about increased costs for food in our factories. We are talking about the electricity going into these factories. Individual Canadians will be paying more. Basically, this is a tax on everything.
It really affects our competitiveness. On one side, the Liberals are saying that they want to be competitive. As I said, Bill is a great step forward. However, we need to address the other side. What domestic policies are the Liberals putting in place that are killing our competitiveness? On this side of the House, we think we have to look at these policies in conjunction.
Moving forward, this whole idea of economic policy needs to be addressed. We cannot just farm one section out, and say for trade we are going to move forward on positive things in that regard. Other countries are doing that as well.
It is the domestic side of the equation that the Liberals seem to be ignoring, to the point where this is going to make manufacturers and businesses in our communities less competitive internationally. Even with the good work moving this forward, the Liberals need to take a step back and do some work at the other end on domestic policies.
One of the things I would like to see moving forward within the next couple of months is certainty coming out of the Liberal government. As I said, this debate we are having today is a good thing, but what about the TPP? What is the government going to do to move that important agenda forward? Companies that are making business decisions right now do not have any certainty. That is a major thing and they may not be choosing Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House today, to be back in the House of Commons, to see all my colleagues again, and to know that we are all sitting in the House together at the same level, men and women alike. We do not need to look up to the gallery to see whether women or other people are sitting there.
I am very pleased to speak to this bill. Extraordinarily, we strongly support this bill introduced by the current government, as it is about the economy. It is about developing our economy here in Canada, and about free trade. Anything that promotes free trade, economic prosperity, anything that helps our businesses produce more and export more freely, and brings foreign investment to Canada, is a good thing, a good idea, which must be developed and supported. That is exactly what we are doing today by showing our support for Bill currently on the table.
I would like to begin by saying that, basically, the purpose of this bill is to implement the agreement to facilitate trade between various countries that was concluded by our Conservative government, that of the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, at a meeting held in Bali a few years ago. We were not the only ones involved. Over one hundred countries concluded this agreement. However, every legislature in each of those countries must also implement the agreement, and that is what we are doing right now.
This bill serves as a reminder of the history of free trade in Canada, and I would like to talk a bit about that before getting into the substance of Bill .
Canada is an exporting country because of its size and our extraordinary assets, including our natural resources and our universities, which year after year produce excellent people to work in our businesses and industries and conduct high-tech research. With a population of over 30 million people, we may be relatively small in number, but we are rich in character and proud of it. Clearly, all countries, but Canada in particular, must rely on exports to fully develop their economies.
In that respect, I am reminded of more recent free trade issues. I could go back as far as the last century, but let us talk instead about the issues encountered in more modern times. Canada signed a milestone free trade agreement with the United States in 1988. That was a momentous occasion and a turning point in Canada's economic development. We opened our doors wide to export our products. Where would Canada be today if we had not signed that free trade agreement? Let us remember that it too was signed only after a long political debate. To put it mildly, some people had concerns about free trade in the beginning. Fortunately, now that some time has passed, today we see that the free trade agreement has had a positive impact, thanks to people's goodwill and especially their open-mindedness. We are fortunate to have signed that agreement.
Perhaps some members understood what I meant when I said that people needed time to warm up to the idea. Some members may remember that during the 1988 election campaign the Liberal Party, which is currently in power, expressed serious reservations about the agreement, even opposed it outright. A few years later, the Liberals finally recognized that it was a good thing.
These are the facts. It is important to mention that the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, who was behind the 1988 free trade agreement, had also expressed some reservations previously. In 1983, during the Conservative Party leadership race, leadership hopeful John Crosbie, former Newfoundland MP and minister, championed this revolutionary and extremely important idea of free trade between Canada and the United States. During that same leadership race another candidate, Brian Mulroney, expressed very serious concerns and said that it was like a mouse lying beside an elephant. We would be crushed and nothing good would come of it.
We have to admit that, back then, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's views had changed. Thank goodness we had this great leader in Canada, at a critical time for our economy, who made the agreement and its ratification possible. Members will recall how unusual the political landscape was back in 1988, particularly in my province of Quebec.
There were people who were sovereignists through and through. I will not call them separatists because that can have a pejorative connotation. Social democrats including Jacques Parizeau, Bernard Landry, former leaders of the Parti Québécois, and former premiers of Quebec came out in favour of free trade. They were strongly in favour of the free trade agreement. They spent their entire lives as social democrats and sovereignists and even they saw the economic benefits in the agreement that were essential for developing our country and Quebec.
That is why we sometimes saw a surprising alliance between right-wing federalists, Conservatives, and so-called left-wing sovereignists, like Jacques Parizeau. They worked side by side for the free trade agreement. I do not want to get into too much regionalism, since we are all Canadians, but some might say that the whole thing succeeded because of Quebec. It was Quebec's support for the Conservative Party that allowed the free trade agreement to be ratified in 1988.
Events and history proved the Mulroney government right, so that was good. When the government of the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien came to power, there was good reason to have some concerns about the development of free trade in Canada. Fortunately, those who in the past had said that the agreement was no good and they would tear it up instead maintained it and even expanded it, with the famous agreement between the three amigos, namely Mexico, the United States, and Canada. As a result, what had begun as the cornerstone of Canada's economic development, in a more contemporary setting, in 1988, was expanded into an agreement between Mexico, the United States, and Canada.
Without going into too much detail, it was about a year ago that negotiations were concluded for the trans-Pacific partnership. Once again, Canada is lucky to be part of that agreement because it represents an extraordinary opportunity for our economy. It should be noted that when we talk about free trade, we are really talking about exports. We are talking about goods that are manufactured here in Canada, by Canadians, and sold in other countries. It is about money from other countries invested here in Canada to pay our workers' wages. There is nothing more lucrative and more profitable for our economy than exports. In fact, one in five jobs in Canada depends on exports.
That is why we are so proud to see how important, how very essential this is for our economy, particularly in light of the following figures: $54 billion for exports of materials for transportation; $48 billion for exports of mineral products; $26 billion for exports of electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; $19 billion for exports of base metals; and $18 billion for exports of products of the chemical industries. That is what export, free trade, and economic development are all about. That is what creates wealth in Canada, and that is why Canada is an exporting nation. It must continue to be an exporting nation, and we must do everything we can to open even more doors around the world so that everybody everywhere can enjoy the quality of Canadian products made by us, by Canadians.
I also want to say that circumstances can shift, people's thinking can change, and some who were once against free trade may now be in favour of it. So much the better. What really matters is the end result, and that is why we strongly support this government's Bill .
I would like to talk about this bill, which would see Canada ratify the agreement on trade facilitation. I will start with some background. In August 2004, the World Trade Organization opened negotiations to hammer out three essential facets of free trade. The first was to improve developing countries' access to today's competitive markets. That is essential. It is fine to say all the right things about helping our friends, about how we are all citizens of this planet, about how we have to help people in developing countries.
However, they should have access to our products and vice versa. As of 2004, the intention was to open markets to developing countries, cut red tape related to trade, and reduce tariffs. In some cases, the cost of the paperwork exceeded the savings that could be realized with trade agreements between different countries. That does not work.
Fortunately, the WTO began examining the issue in 2004. Finally, in December 2013, the Bali package, incorrectly named the “paquet de Bali” in French, was agreed to. The Bali agreement covered the three aspects I just mentioned. They were committed to paper and then everyone was asked to enshrine them. This occurred on November 27, 2014, with the Protocol of Amendment.
Here, in Canada, a proposed trade facilitation agreement was introduced on May 13, 2015, by my colleague from , the former minister of international trade, whom I would like to salute. Not so long ago, he was seated on my right, here on this bench. It is always very pleasant to have neighbours on our right, even though I think I am not much to the left of my colleagues.
I would like to say, from my seat in the House of Commons, that the member for made a major and exemplary contribution to Canada's economic development. Canada should be grateful to the hon. member for Abbotsford, who signed historic agreements that are vital to Canada's economy. He is from British Columbia, a part of this country that I am discovering more and more. We are lucky to be MPs in Ottawa, because it gives us the opportunity to discover our beautiful, vast, and productive country.
On May 13, 2016, the member for , the former minister of international trade, introduced a sort of set of instructions for the agreement on trade facilitation. I am pleased to see that the current government is continuing that work by introducing this bill to implement the agreement on trade facilitation. It is a rather long bill.
The bill makes many technical changes. Amendments must be made to the Food and Drugs Act, the Hazardous Products Act, the Radiation Emitting Devices Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999, the Pest Control Products Act, the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, and the Safe Food for Canadians Act.
The list of amendments is long, but they are necessary to allow Canada to reach its full economic development potential. More specifically, amendments must be made to two provisions of the trade facilitation agreement, namely article 10.8, which deals with the treatment of goods that are rejected at the border because they do not comply with certain health and other technical requirements, and article 11.8, which prohibits the application of technical regulations to goods moving through a WTO member's territory to a point outside its territory, or in other words, goods in transit.
I prefer reading, rather than speaking off the cuff, because these details are very technical. It is better to rely on good notes, to know what we are talking about.
Basically, the bottom line is that this will give Canada access to more countries, and it will make it easier for all countries to do business with one another. It will also help ensure the safety and security of the products traded, give developing countries greater access to trade, and give our exporters access to those emerging markets, which, in the past, were often overlooked, but now must be part of the equation.
We are glad that, in 1988, we concluded an agreement with our largest trading partner, the United States. We are also happy that those agreements have been expanded to include all of North America. Bravo.
We are pleased to see that, over time, whether it was under the leadership of the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien or the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, all governments came together to open our markets and help our businesses export their products.
While it is true that we have a fundamental difference of opinion and specific concerns about each other, one thing that unites us and brings us together is the issue of free trade. Free trade is synonymous with economic development.
This is why the legislation is very important and we deeply support the bill. We will study it, line by line, to ensure that everything is all right, but the purpose of the bill is to open our country to new markets and to create jobs.
Basically, this agreement will boost exports from developed economies from $310 billion to an estimated $580 billion per year. Global exports could rise by nearly 3%, and 21 million jobs could be created worldwide.
That is the kind of potential we need to cultivate and evaluate carefully. As we said earlier, we have to get used to this and recognize the need for an open-minded response to new challenges. While we may have had reservations about the quality of what developing countries are producing and how they produce their goods and services, there is no denying that the best way to help these countries achieve higher standards is to trade with them.
Furthermore, as many historians would agree, trade is the reason that we have not had a world war in nearly 75 years even though, unfortunately, wars do break out around the world from time to time. Countries are working together and trading with each other.
General de Gaulle, who was not against European countries working together, said that this was one of the fundamental factors for ensuring national security and peace in Europe. General de Gaulle certainly knew what he was talking about, having suffered the horrors of the First World War and led his country in a honourable fight during the Second World War. This man, who fought fiercely against the Nazi enemy, reached out to Germany and all the other countries, including Italy, in order to work with them. That was the first global move toward international trade. It was legendary and now countries can help each other advance their development.
I can assure hon. members that on this side of the House we are in favour of this bill. We will work very hard and conscientiously on it and carry on the excellent work done by the hon. member for , under whose guidance previous agreements were concluded, bringing us to the introduction of Bill today.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to discuss and debate Bill .
Oddly, since this morning, except for a few interventions, very few people have spoken to the content of Bill C-13. This bill seeks to enact legislative amendments to comply with a World Trade Organization treaty or agreement that was signed to facilitate trade. I would say it is not an extremely controversial bill. We are supporting the bill at second reading simply because there are very few changes in it, since Canada is already largely compliant with the terms of the trade facilitation agreement. Very few legislative changes will be needed.
However, given that one of the arguments put forward by the government and those supporting the agreement's ratification is that this will truly help small and medium-sized business, we would also like to see, not just in the bill, but in the government's actions, concerted efforts to promote the economic activity of SMEs. Unfortunately, the government's efforts in that regard have been rather lacklustre from the start of its term. We hope this will change.
I very much enjoyed hearing the various debates from both sides of the House. They did not necessarily pertain to the bill itself, about which little has been said, but focused on who is the staunchest supporter of free trade in the House. I find that very amusing because arguments are being bandied back and forth, and members are accusing other members of not supporting free trade as much as they do. What we should note is that very little is being said about the content. Not much was said about the impact of this bill, except for the impact according to major economic theories and concepts, which we do not disagree with when it comes to trade. Canada is a nation that exports and imports. Its economy is open and benefits from the opportunity to develop through exports.
No one objects to that, and that is why the NDP will be voting in favour of this bill at second reading, just like we voted in favour of various other initiatives, such as the Agreement on Internal Trade. The NDP has also supported various trade agreements that have been signed, including those with Jordan and South Korea. That explains why, in some situations, we are still waiting to see what decisions the government will make, particularly with regard to the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement, for which the previous Conservative government promised specific compensation for dairy farmers and fish processors, as well as for the provinces, for drug expenses. We do not really know what the Liberal government is going to do about that.
With regard to the agreement with the European Union, we are not opposed to it at first glance, but we need to carefully analyze the compensation that will be granted by the government, if any. This may seem surprising because I often hear my Conservative colleagues and, to some extent, my Liberal colleagues saying that the NDP is against trade agreements and free trade. That is not the case. Unlike the other parties in the House, the NDP is more focused on the content of these trade deals.
This is extremely important because we need a lens we can use to evaluate our support for these agreements. I have not really heard these arguments from the Conservatives in the past. I have not heard them from the Liberals, either.
I would like to tell you a story. After the trade agreement between Canada and the European Union was signed, about two or two and a half years ago, Prime Minister Harper returned, and we discussed that trade agreement in the House. The day after the signing, the first statement in the House by the Liberal leader, now the , was to extend congratulations on signing the agreement. He said that the Liberals supported it, and he asked when we might have it. This seems quite absurd to me, since a trade agreement is a contract. In a contract, there is content to be reviewed to ensure that it is appropriate for Canada’s needs and what Canada is seeking.
That is why we need a lens, an evaluation grid or a set of principles for assessing the content of these agreements.
The NDP always evaluates three particular factors before deciding whether to support an agreement or not. First of all, any trade agreement between Canada and its partners must bring definite economic benefits for Canada. We are not talking about a zero-sum game. We fully realize that both parties may gain something. What should concern us is whether Canada gains something in the end.
It is important to realize that, in any trade agreement, some industries benefit more than others. Some of them may even lose in the deal. It is necessary to assess the overall economic impact of the agreements.
That is where the problem lies in the case of the trans-Pacific partnership. In the House, the Liberals and the Conservatives are ready to support it without first studying its economic impact on the country. This is pure carelessness, dogmatism, and irresponsible behaviour.
As parliamentarians, our duty is not to rubber-stamp a trade agreement simply because it is a trade agreement. We first have to clearly determine what the specific and overall pros and cons are for Canada. That has not been done in the case of the trans-Pacific partnership.
In fact, it is very rarely done for most trade agreements. It is rare for a specific study by the Department of Finance or Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada on how a trade agreement will affect the Canadian economy to be tabled in the House.
The first prerequisite is therefore that the trade agreement must have a positive effect on the Canadian economy with regard to growth and industry.
Second, such an agreement must be reciprocal. A trade agreement between Canada and a trading partner must afford Canada the same access and conditions that Canada gives its partner within its own borders. That would seem obvious, but it was not the case when we concluded certain agreements in the past.
For example, in the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement we signed with China, a number of elements did not ensure reciprocity between Canada and China. Nevertheless, the two parties in the House were fully prepared to sign the agreement. It is worth noting that the agreement has not been ratified since it was signed four years ago.
This makes me smile, because people gripe about why the Liberal government still has not brought the trans-Pacific partnership to the House for ratification, when the Conservative government signed agreements such as the one with the European Union and the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with China that were never put before the House for ratification.
The third condition is that a trade agreement with any partner must comply with conditions regarding environmental protection and the protection of workers’ rights. In general, it must respect and promote the protection of human rights in the countries concerned. Once again, despite the claims made on both sides, this point does not seem to be of particular interest to the House or the committees studying the matter.
Since 2011, my first year in the House of Commons, we have been extremely consistent about supporting or rejecting trade agreements discussed in the House. We rejected agreements with Honduras, Panama, and Colombia, because those countries do absolutely nothing to protect human rights.
In committee, the two parties told us that signing a trade agreement would automatically promote the development of human rights and that there was no need to include provisions in the trade agreement.
They said that reviews would be carried out year after year regarding the human rights situation and how the treaty affected human rights. Systematically, there is never any follow-up on this issue. As a result, agreements are signed with countries that consistently violate human rights. We still sign agreements without bothering to try to insert provisions that will safeguard human rights and the environment.
That is why the agreements with Panama, Colombia, and Honduras were rejected by the NDP. That is why the NDP supported the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement and the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement. Since the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union seems to pass this test at this time, we are quite willing to study it further.
That is a long way from the picture of the NDP that the Conservatives and the Liberals are trying to paint. When all is said and done, we are the only party that is truly responsible with regard to international trade, because we are the only party that does not automatically support everything that is put before the House and everything that is signed by successive governments. We pay attention to details and content.
In progressive circles, more and more people find that in fact, a trade agreement is not a bad thing in itself. It is an agreement that establishes the rules of the game between the two trading partners. However, it will be extremely important to amend this content in the future, because it is not just a matter of free trade.
These treaties generally say very little about the barriers to be eliminated; they have more to say about protecting investors. Indeed, that was the case for the trans-Pacific partnership. The bulk of the TPP, and of the agreements tabled in the House, is not about eliminating tariff or non-tariff barriers; it is about protecting investors in the various countries.
If we could stop talking about free trade, since the issue is not free trade, and start thinking about what could be called fair trade, Canada would be in a position to alter its negotiating stance with the various countries and include elements that would add a significant component of fairness to its trading. This would ensure that the benefits underlying international trade would go to everyone, not just to the privileged few. That is the basis of the NDP’s argument on international trade.
Let’s return to the issue of the TPP. We should ask ourselves whether it will be beneficial or not and whether there will be benefits for Canada or not, once again, beyond the usual elements—clichés, I would call them—concerning international trade. Let us ask the question. About 80% of our exports to the countries that already trade with Canada, namely all of the 12 countries in the TPP, are raw and semi-processed materials. If we look at what we import from those countries, 80% of those imports are high value-added products.
We are therefore in a situation where, economically, many experts complain about or lament the deindustrialization of Canada, Canada’s shift toward an economy that used to be industrially diversified, an economy that relies increasingly on raw or barely processed materials.
I think we would do well to have a debate and think seriously about how the Canadian economy has evolved in that direction, particularly since the 1980s.
The economic impact I mentioned includes another factor. Tufts University estimated that the trans-Pacific partnership would cost up to 60,000 jobs in Canada. However, the Conservative government, on whose watch we negotiated that agreement, did not present any economic analyses about job gains or job losses. What will the economic impact be with respect to growth?
In the United States, that analysis was done, and it was estimated that the trans-Pacific partnership could increase the gross domestic product by nearly 0.20% by 2025. We are going to make major structural changes in the American economy and all of the signatories’ economies for a 0.20% gain. At some point, we have to be critical of these agreements, not with regard to the principle of trade, but with regard to what our goals are when we negotiate and ratify these agreements.
There are very few analyses and debates in the House, only platitudes. That is a real shame, and also the reason I am proud to be part of the NDP. Since at least 2011, the year I was first elected, that party has taken a consistently procedural approach to analyzing these agreements. We want to continue doing so. An agreement such as the trans-Pacific partnership will have repercussions for supply management and the cost of prescription drugs, since there will be a big impact on intellectual property. These are repercussions of unprecedented scope. Let us not forget that Canada is currently the country with the second-highest cost of prescription drugs in the world. The agreement also gives enhanced protection and profits to makers of brand-name products rather than makers of generic products, which will drive up the cost of prescription drugs significantly. In the end, not only will the people have to foot the bill, but the provinces as well, since many of them have drug insurance plans, like the hospital sector, which is managed by the provinces.
So I want to reiterate the NDP’s support for this bill, which, in the end, does not have a big impact on the Canadian economy, but I also want to remind members that our primary role is not just to say yes or no to a trade agreement, when we have to decide on one, but to analyze it in depth to see how it will affect the Canadian economy and the people we are supposed to represent in the House.
I urge members to take a much more rigorous approach in this regard. We are already doing so. We are giving the other parties an opportunity to step up.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by welcoming all my colleagues on all sides of the House back from their summer. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. Like many of them, we attended fairs, we did farmers markets, we did parades, we met with constituents, and championed causes. I was very happy to visit all communities in my riding from Dorset and Cardiff in the north and northeast to Seagrave and Millbrook to the south, and many other towns in between. Like every other summer, I ate way too much Kawartha Dairy ice cream. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving when only the gravy and pie can make me feel less guilty about my summer indulgences.
However, today I am pleased to be back to speak to Bill . The bill would implement the trade facilitation agreement concluded by our previous Conservative government at the World Trade Organization's ninth ministerial conference in Bali in December 2013. I hope the Liberal government will continue to build on this record of international trade.
Bill C-13 would create jobs and opportunities for Canadians. It would simplify customs procedures, reduce red tape, expedite the release and clearance of goods, reduce costs associated with processing, and make international trade more predictable for Canadians. It would help protect jobs, not only for Canadians but also in jurisdictions right around the world.
As we all know, Canada is a trading nation. We have a rich history in the development of trade. From the Hudson's Bay Company to our oil fields in Alberta, it has all contributed to the Canada that we know and love today.
The TFA will be the first multilateral trade agreement concluded since the WTO was established over 20 years ago. Once it enters into force, global merchandise exports are estimated to increase by $750 billion to $1 trillion per year. The exports of developed economies are estimated to increase by $310 billion to $580 billion per year. The overall boost to the world export growth is estimated to be up to 2.7% and 21 million jobs created. That is just shy of the population of Ontario and Quebec. However, these jobs will not just be in developed nations like Canada; they will be spread right across the globe. It is important that Canada act quickly on trade matters to show the world that Canada is open to the world for business.
The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of WTO members have completed their domestic ratification process. Currently we sit at 81. We need 108 of those members. So far, those include EU, United States, and Japan. Since June 2016, the following nations have ratified the agreement: Madagascar, Senegal, Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Uruguay, and Mexico. That is just since June of this year. Many other nations have already ratified the agreement: India, China, Turkey, and New Zealand just to name a few.
As members can see, this would not benefit just one or two nations. Bill would benefit countries and people right across the globe, including people in our hometowns, and my hometowns of Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls. In fact, this agreement would reduce total trade costs by more than 14% for low-income countries, more than 15% for middle-income countries, and more than 13% for upper middle-income countries.
To quote the World Trade Report 2015:
The TFA is groundbreaking because it provides for assistance to developing and least-developed countries to help them implement the Agreement. The Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility, launched by the WTO in July 2014, is designed to help deliver this support to them....
WTO work on trade facilitation culminated in the adoption of the Trade Facilitation Agreement...at the WTO’s Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali in December 2013. It is the first multilateral agreement since the establishment of the WTO in 1995.
We all know that Canada is a trading nation. We cannot afford to allow ourselves to be alienated. We cannot afford to exclude ourselves from these multinational agreements. Our refusal to be involved would put Canadians at a distinct disadvantage in international trade when compared to nations with bilateral or multilateral agreements. Our previous government knew this, which was why we were responsible for signing agreements across the globe. We understood the importance of trade, which was why we worked so hard to ensure that Canadians had access to large and growing markets. The TFA will introduce further rules and regulations that will level the playing field for Canadian businesses.
I want to take a minute to relate this back to my riding. My home riding, like many members' ridings, is filled with small and medium-sized businesses. There are many local businesses across Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock that would benefit from the TFA and other trade deals. These deals would allow farmers in Cannington, Kirkfield, and Bethany to export their products abroad and would give businesses like Kawartha Dairy a level playing field to expand and create opportunities for Canadians. We as parliamentarians need to ensure that Canadians are given the opportunity and ability. Agreements like the TFA and TPP would do just that.
I am pleased to see that the Liberal government introduced this bill. I hope to have that signed, and once it is done I hope the Liberals continue on other agreements, like the TPP, which I mention many times. As we all know, the TPP is an international trade agreement. It represents a market of almost 800 million potential customers, with a combined GDP of $29 trillion. It is projected that the TPP would boost Canada's GDP by $4.3 billion by 2040. Staying out of the TPP would likely lead to a reported $5.3 billion in GDP losses, according to the Global Affairs Canada website.
There is a very strong case to be made for ratification. The government needs to take action and ratify the TPP to ensure that hard-working Canadians have not only the opportunity but the ability to prosper as well. In Canada, one in five jobs are directly linked to exports. Canadians cannot afford to be left out of this deal. Trade can grow our economy without spending billions of dollars that we do not have.
I do not normally find myself in agreement with the members opposite, but I am happy to see the Liberals are continuing to build on our previous government's accomplishments, of course regarding trade. I hope that this deal is signed and that our colleagues across the floor will ratify the TPP as soon as possible.
If the Liberal government were serious about trade, it would adhere to the recent G7 leaders' declaration and commit to ratifying the TPP, independent of the United States. That would ensure that Canadians are given a strong position to grow and expand their businesses in the future, putting something into place that would lower trade barriers and increase market access, which will be critical for the success of Canadian businesses and the protection of Canadian jobs.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to join this debate on Bill , the trade facilitation agreement. Of course it comes as no surprise that I am going to be supporting this piece of legislation, as technical as it as and as difficult as it was to read through it.
I think it gives us an opportunity to celebrate the good work of the previous minister of international trade, the member for , a friend on this side of the House, whose hard work on behalf of Canadians has borne fruit.
It was at the ninth WTO ministerial conference, as the previous member mentioned, in Bali in September 2013, that ministers adopted the Bali package, which included allowing developing countries more options for providing food security, boosting least-developed countries' (LDC) trade, and helping development more generally. The largest deliverable was streamlining customs procedures through the trade facilitation agreement, which is now before us, which we have a chance to debate, implement, and ratify.
The previous government not only made free trade a centrepiece of its economic agenda but also demonstrated that Canada can be ambitious and bold when it seeks to expand access to new markets for Canadians. Over a 10-year period, the Conservative government was able to negotiate free trade agreements with 46 different countries, bringing the total number of countries with which Canada has trade agreements to 51. That is 4.6 agreements per year.
The Liberal government, on the other hand, is coming close to one year in office, next month, and it has exactly zero. It has zero new agreements ratified and consented to by Her Majesty. I think that is quite the record for the first year of government. It has no record on free trade to call its own. In fact, a previous treaty that we implemented and that this House passed, Bill the Marrakesh treaty, was passed last session and was, again, the work of the previous government and is now implemented in legislation.
I am not complaining. I would like to see the government implement more legislation based on the good work of the previous government, especially on the free trade agenda. There are lots of legacy pieces there that should be implemented. Again, when the spoke on this bill originally, he said this would reinforce the government's strong record on trade; except there is no record of which to speak. It is the record of the previous Conservative government, and in fact, all the good ideas and all the hard work of the member for , who contributed more to Canada in terms of free trade agreements signed, negotiated, and ratified than any other member in maybe the last 50 years.
There is no record for the Liberal government to promote, reinforce, or strengthen here. This bill, though, does lay the foundation for the potential of a record. There is an opportunity. There are two more free trade agreements that the government could bring before the House so we could ratify them properly.
Like many good ideas, they started with the Conservatives and, I want to again mention, the member for who deserves high praise. Many of these agreements, many of these successes, are thanks to him and the work he did when he was a member of the government.
Bill is good news. We know that trade accounts for 60% of Canada's annual GDP and represents one in five Canadian jobs that are tied to export. Members of the WTO have ratified the TFA, like those mentioned before: the United States, the European Union, China, and Japan. They expect Canada to do the same without delay.
We know that 108 countries, two-thirds, have to complete the domestic ratification process. The sooner we do it, the better for Canadian investors, importers, and exporters of goods, including small and medium-sized businesses, which will benefit from the implementation of the TFA.
I want to highlight one business in my riding that would benefit from this agreement. This business is called Tundra Process Solutions. We know that in Alberta right now times are tough in the oil patch. Easily more than 100,000 jobs have been lost. That is direct jobs and does not even count the indirect jobs losses.
I was pleased today to join the member for , when she was doing a press conference on her e-petition. It was very successful. She had an oil worker there from Grande Prairie, talking about the job losses he is seeing.
Tundra Process Solutions is one of those companies in the oil patch that is diversifying. It is a great Canadian story. It is in my riding. It has purchased a manufacturing company that builds equipment, from California, and actually moved it to Calgary. It is a manufacturing oil and gas company producing equipment that it is selling to the world today.
With this type of agreement today, it could export to new countries, bypassing some of these very complicated customs rules and tariff rules, as well as the paperwork, the red tape required for it to move its product to a willing buyer in another country. This is how it is going to make money. Its 25-plus workers who depend on export will be quite happy when the TFA is passed, because their jobs depend on finding new markets for the product they produce.
With the lowering of tariffs across the globe, the cost of complying with customs formalities has been reported to exceed, in many instances, the cost of duties to be paid. Trade costs are among the most fundamental factors shaping the evolution of trade.
We have to remember that we do not live in a static world. If Canada does not move forward with more free trade agreements, others will, and that, by definition, will start cutting us out of those markets. Therefore, we have no choice but to pursue a free trade agenda.
The TFA is critical for many parts of its legislative measures, and there are two of them specifically. I will mention one of them, but there are two important ones. Article 11.8, which the member for mentioned before in debate, prohibits the application of technical regulations to goods moving through a WTO member's territory from a point outside its territory to another foreign point as a good in transit. This would affect Tundra Process Solutions Ltd., because it is moving equipment from country to country, some of which is being purchased and some of which is being leased. Oil and gas is an international business. Many companies are horizontally and vertically integrated and can move equipment around, so this is good news for them. This measure is an excellent one to introduce.
I think of the government's financial agenda and the budget it proposed. This would have no financial implications for the Government of Canada. This would be paid for with current dollars.
To support the TFA's implementation, Canada, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. provided support in December 2015 for the launch of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation. It is a fantastic idea. It is more good news from the previous government and more good work by the member for . This initiative was designed to assist developing countries to implement the TFA.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development estimates that the average customs transaction involves 20 to 30 different parties; 40 documents; 200 data elements, 30 of which are repeated at least 30 times, and the re-keying of 60% to 70% of all data at least once. In my previous life working for a chamber of commerce, I know that specific point is when errors begin to happen and costs begin to rise, because the errors have to be fixed but oftentimes can start to compound. Then there are regulatory problems and delays in the business. If this agreement could help to at least reduce these by 50%, it would be a huge change for Canadian businesses. Again, there are many technical and legislative benefits to the TFA.
I want to finish on the principle of the matter. Free trade at its core is about a willing buyer and a willing seller meeting and making a voluntary transaction. Its core is about freedom. As former Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier said, "Canada is free and freedom is its nationality."
The great debates in Canada were about reciprocity, reciprocity between provinces, and reciprocity with our closest trading partner the United States. That has been the fundamental part of what it means to be a Canadian. We have had a lot of trouble with internal trade between our provinces. We can all agree that we want new markets to send our products to, so they can see the maple leaf and the words, “Made in Canada”. I am proud of that when I see it overseas when I travel. Trade between people regardless of nation they live in is the ultimate proof of the nationality of freedom that Sir Wilfrid Laurier spoke about.
The economy does not need more stimulation or subsidies. What it needs is us to get out of the way and get rid of these laborious customs rules and the paperwork involved. That would provide more freedom for businesses owned and operated by Canadians. It is for Canadians. We can recapture that spirit of freedom that Sir Wilfrid Laurier encouraged.
Let us pass the TFA and move on to the true record of the government. It could ratify the Canada-European Union free trade agreement. It could ratify the trans-Pacific partnership agreement. It would have a record to speak about. It would have a legacy to speak of in 10 years. It would have something to look back on. It could say it was a government that promoted free trade.
Free trade has always been a part of this country. It was about reciprocity in a different generation. Today we talk about free trade. Sometimes we talk about fair trade, equitable trade, but it is about choice. It is about giving Canadians the choice on whom they choose to trade with, and with the least rules possible. Let us give Canadians the freedom to trade as they wish. Let us live up to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's call that “Canada is free and freedom is its nationality”. That quote appears in our new passport. It is in each so that every single Canadian can turn to the middle of the page and look at it right there. That encapsulates what Canada is all about. It is about the freedom to trade, the freedom to associate, the freedom to speak one's mind.
I cannot see anything better than ratifying this agreement and proceeding to ratifying the next agreements.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to discuss Bill , which would enable Canada to ratify the World Trade Organization's agreement on trade facilitation, the TFA.
The main purpose of the TFA is to update and simplify customs procedures, primarily as regards non-compliant goods and goods in transit. I think it is very important to talk about this issue, which will also be good for small and medium-sized exporters in the greater Drummond area.
People tend to see political parties in terms of stereotypes. Many people think the NDP is against all international agreements, which is not at all the case. We are in favour of fair international agreements that respect workers' health and rights as well as social aspects, the environment and the health of the planet, all of which are extremely important.
That is why we encourage trade that can be conducted through WTO agreements, for instance, but also why we are totally against the trans-Pacific partnership, or TPP. It is not a free trade agreement per se. Rather, it is an agreement on the rights of investors disguised as a trade agreement. I will come back to that point a little later. It is really troubling. It is worth noting that this agreement could cost us up to 60,000 good Canadian jobs, with only a negligible impact on economic growth.
The NDP has long been the champion of small business. During the 2006 and 2008 election campaigns, I helped the NDP candidate. I came back in 2011 and 2015, and every time, the main economic theme was small business. Small and medium-sized businesses are the largest job creators in the country. They are really important. We must support them, encourage them, and do everything in our power to improve their situation. Facilitating international trade and exports is very beneficial to the small businesses in my region, greater Drummond.
On that subject, I have here an article from La Presse Affaires of May 4, 2015, explaining the importance of SMEs in the greater Drummond area. The article is called “Drummondville, the industrial oasis along the 20”. The 20 refers to highway 20. In it, the economic power of SMEs in the beautiful Drummond region is described as an industrial oasis. In our region, we are very proud of the economic diversification that we have managed to achieve over the years.
I would like to read the first paragraph of the article.
Drummondville definitely continues to amaze us. Last year, the most vibrant region in Quebec had a record $220 million in new industrial investments, which led to the creation of 1,069 jobs, which is also a record.
When we pool our resources to encourage SMEs and to promote economic diversification, we can succeed, just like Drummondville. We really have to commend the work of the Société de développement économique de Drummondville, the SDED, and successive municipal councils, which did an excellent job. Martin Dupont, SDED's executive director, said, “Almost 30 years ago we took a chance on SMEs and diversification, and it paid off.”
I could give several examples of why Drummondville is an industrial oasis in Quebec and Canada. It is home to the biggest business incubator in Canada, which is quite something. In fact, that business incubator expanded again recently. That is a testament to the strength of entrepreneurship in our region. It is extremely important.
We are going to support Bill , despite our concerns regarding goods in transit that are hazardous or prohibited in Canada. They may be accepted, but they will have to be checked. If the bill is passed at second reading, we will have to do everything in our power in committee to protect the health and safety of those working in proximity to these goods in transit.
The NDP wants to facilitate economic trade for our SMEs, foster economic diversification, and promote the entrepreneurship and competitiveness of the small and medium-sized businesses in the greater Drummond area that we are so proud of. There is a reason why a journalist referred to us as an industrial oasis. However, we also want to ensure that we do this through agreements that are good for Canada and that will not be harmful to Canadians.
Unfortunately, the agreement that is going to hurt Canadians is the TPP. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz called the TPP “the worst trade agreement ever”. Obviously, neither the Conservative government nor the new Liberal government did their homework. This agreement will be disastrous for supply management, which Quebec is fighting tooth and nail for.
This summer, I visited all of the rural municipalities in my riding, and I saw the members for , , and . We talked to hundreds of farmers from all over central Quebec to find out which issues are important to them. They told us that protecting supply management is extremely important, as is staying away from agreements like the TPP, which will hurt our economy and the agri-food industry in Quebec and Canada. People told us that we all have to work very hard on this.
Another problem farmers brought up was diafiltered milk. The Liberal government has to get moving on this issue. It has not yet dealt with the situation, and that is horrible. Hundreds of the people we met while visiting the 18 municipalities in my riding told us they are worried about the price of milk, which is determined to a significant extent by diafiltered milk entering the country illegally. Unfortunately, the Liberal government has so far failed to step up on this issue, and that is really disappointing.
In conclusion, we are in favour of free trade agreements when they benefit Canadians, promote a healthy environment and protect workers' rights. That is what really matters, and that is why I will continue to fight for greater Drummond's local economy and its SMEs.
Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise, and according to the clock, I will be taking us to question period.
I have to admit, I always enjoy talking about subjects involving trade. Frequently when we talk about issues in the House, they tend to be fairly specialized. Ironically Bill that we are talking about today is very specialized.
However, trade is one of those aspects, one of those things, that affect all of us in Canada. For a country approaching 40 million, it seems a bit odd to characterize it this way, but Canada is a small, open economy. We do a lot of trading. If we look at our history, this is how Canada really started and got going as a geographic, national entity with the fur trade pushing out, starting in New France, Quebec, and pushing through Rupert's Land through all of western Canada.
One thing that has been observed throughout the years is that people sometimes forget the obvious about trade. The same principles that involve individuals, one person to one person, actually apply to nations.
Trade works. I trade with the Government of Canada. It gives me a salary. I do a certain amount of work as a member of Parliament. I then go out and trade. I go to the grocery store. I give people at the grocery store a piece of paper, known as a $20 bill, and they give me some products back, perhaps milk, bread, pizza, or whatever. Those obvious interactions that we see in our day-to-day lives are the same basic principles that need to be applied as we go forward, as we look out to the entire world. The idea that I have something of which I have too much or that is not useful to me, pieces of paper, for example, dollar bills, money, and someone else has some food, etc., that idea works in both directions.
Trade is good. Economists have long recognized that free trade in an idealized state is the absolute best. Although for reasons of national security and other reasons like that, we may not always have pure and perfect free trade. We know that as far as economic conditions are concerned, the freer the trade, the better the conditions.
This brings us today to a bill known as Bill . It has a fairly long name, talking about the various amendments it is bringing forward to a variety of acts. What it is really doing is helping us fulfill some of our agreements that we have as far as the trade facilitation agreement goes. It is a bit of a technical issue.
What it basically says and what we know is that, in the modern world, trade needs to have some sort of rules. For countries like Canada that operate under the rule of law, not just in theory but in practice, this is a good thing because there is so much information, so many different standards, and so many different products and ways to measure things, that it is difficult to understand. In the old days when we had a considerably less sophisticated economy, considerably fewer products, less product depreciation, and not quite international trade, rules were not so much necessary. However, now if we are going to trade something, be it electronics, be it herbicides, be it certain forms of food, we need to understand what we are getting on both sides.
That is ultimately what the purpose of the legislation is. It is to help bring Canadian standards, in the few ways that they do not conform, into a way that other countries can understand, that we can work with, and that we can mutually benefit from.
It is interesting reading the background literature, and no other members have brought this forward. These technical standards, these technical issues, some exist just because different countries do things in different ways. Some, however, are used to deliberately discriminate and favour local businesses for political purposes. However, these technical issues, these matters of interpretation and understanding of how to trade across borders are actually more costly than the standard tariff barriers that we often think about. These are often the key issues when it comes to trade negotiations between countries, so it is very important that we get these right. Again, this benefits Canadians.
When we have these debates and when we talk about free trade, I admire and I listen to the good stories of my colleagues who talk about the small businesses, the medium-sized enterprises who are held up by these barriers. However, the one thing I always listen for and I do not usually hear it, sometimes I do, is how this benefits consumers, because each and every Canadian is a consumer, every day. We do not always know where our products come from, but of course, we are happy and proud when a product is made somewhere close to home.
I love to buy things made in Saskatchewan. I am from Saskatoon, so that is quite natural. However, if we can get better quality products by trading something we have that is superior to something they have that is superior, this is a win-win. We need to remember this whenever we engage in a trade negotiation.
The more efficient we can make the system, the better we can make the trade rules, the more the consumers win. This needs to be emphasized over and over again. Canadians need to export but when we export, we will import more. If we import more, that will help our consumers. Therefore, both exports are a win and imports are a win for Canadian consumers.
This also brings me now to the next thing which has been talked about today. This legislation does not deal directly with the trans-Pacific partnership trade deal, but is somewhat viewed as a—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!