Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for that intervention. These are all learning experiences for us, especially for those of us who are new to Parliament.
As I said, it makes our outcome for negotiating challenging. We find ourselves in the last two weeks toward final ratification of this agreement. Mexico did all its work ahead of time and the U.S. spent a number of weeks ratifying its side of the agreement. Here we are on February 3 and we find ourselves trying to ratify the Liberals' agreement as brought forward. It is only through this process that the Liberal government has realized that it is a minority government and it needs the opposition to support and pass the bill.
I was asked several questions about the new NAFTA during the election, as many of us were. Most of them revolved around the dairy industry or supply-managed commodities and I will get to that in a few moments, but first I would like to underline some statistics about Nova Scotia's exports to the United States. The numbers I have are from 2015, 2017 and 2018.
In 2015, the United States was the destination for 69.39% of Nova Scotia's international goods exports. The U.S. by far is Nova Scotia's number one trading partner. Europe, at about 10%, and other countries, at about 20%, received the balance of Nova Scotia's exports in 2015.
Four U.S. regions received about 85% of Nova Scotia's U.S. trade in goods in 2015. About 37% was sent to New England, as one would expect, on the eastern side of the country. About 24% went to the southeast region, 15% to the Great Lakes region and about 8% to the mid-east region. The remaining 14.77% was distributed among other regions in the U.S.
In 2015, rubber or tires from Michelin and fish products added up to about 55% of the total exports for Nova Scotia. They were the main domestic exports to the United States. Another 17% of exports to the U.S. were paper, mineral fuels and plastics. The remaining 28% consisted of other miscellaneous goods.
In 2018, fish products accounted for 24%, or $883.5 million, of total exports from Nova Scotia to the U.S. Crustaceans, lobsters, crabs and others, represented about 69%, or $605 million, of this product group.
Nova Scotia's exports continue to diversify by destination, with declining exports to the U.S. They were down about 0.6% when comparing January and February 2018 with January and February 2017. Exports to other destinations rose and were up about 31%. This is also the case for many other provinces in Canada. Exports from New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, where growth in exports to the U.S. outpaced growth to other destinations, grew more concentrated in the U.S.
Nova Scotia's exports to the U.S. were down by about $3.4 million as declining values for energy, forestry, electronics, motor vehicles and parts, aircraft and other transportation equipment and consumer goods more than offset the gains in farm, fishing, intermediate food, metal ores, metal, mineral products, chemicals, plastics, rubber and machinery equipment.
As an aside in this discussion, the coronavirus is creating tremendous challenges for our exporters. China is Nova Scotia's second-largest export destination. Comparing January and February 2018 with the same months in 2017, Nova Scotia's exports grew by about $36 million, mostly on gains in forest products and consumer goods.
To say that U.S. trade is important to us is truly an understatement and the trade deal that supports it is paramount.
I spend a lot of time talking about the fishing industry in the riding of West Nova which, as we can see, exports almost all its products outside the country, so I thought I would spend the remaining time talking about the agricultural industry. It may not export quite as much, but it was affected quite substantially by the changes in protections pertaining to supply-managed commodities. It seems that every time Canada negotiates a free trade agreement, those commodities take a hit.
A few years ago, in 2005, when I was a provincial minister of agriculture, I attended the WTO negotiations in Hong Kong. At that time there was a protracted discussion on Canada's continued support of supply-managed commodities, pressure from the European Union and the U.S. The Liberal government of the day was ready to allow access to other countries at that time.
It was not until the provincial ministers, Liberal, Conservative and NDP, came together, supported by the national commodity associations, that the negotiating team finally took it off the table. Since that time, and before that time, I have been a supporter of our commodities. Now that I represent the largest agricultural area in Nova Scotia, that support has become even stronger.
Nova Scotia's agricultural community is small compared to those in other provinces, but the backbone is dairy and poultry. Without those, the other commodities would have trouble existing. That is why any loss of market affects Nova Scotia more than others. A 3.6% loss of the dairy market truly affects the small farms in Nova Scotia, which is why the adjustment payments are important to allow better cash flow due to these market changes.
I am a big believer in grassroots government. We must listen to those in our community. I therefore want to underline what we have heard from others.
The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, or CAFTA, stated:
CAFTA welcomes the announcement that negotiations have concluded on updating the CUSMA.
We look forward to receiving confirmation that the changes don’t negatively impact our members.
Since the initial negotiations concluded well over a year ago, the prolonged discussions required to secure support in the U.S. Congress have undermined business certainty.
CAFTA is waiting for answers on what the final decision is going to be.
Pierre Lampron, president of Dairy Farmers of Canada said that in a parliamentary system, “all bills, including those aimed at ratifying international agreements, are subject to a legislative process designed to improve them, and it’s important not only for the dairy sector, but also for aluminum workers, that this agreement be put through that process.”
I hope that everybody has the opportunity to talk to the dairy farmers who will be coming to Parliament Hill over the next number of days.
The North American free trade agreement is extremely important to producers in my riding, but not any old deal will do. We need one that benefits our industries and which does not take one area of the country for granted, as we are looking at with the aluminum issue. The government must prove to us, and better yet, prove to Canadians, that it is getting it right. That is in the court of the government today.