Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Surrey Centre.
I am pleased to rise in the House today in support of Bill C-4.
Over the generations, Canada, Mexico and the United States have established an economic relationship that is a model for the entire world. Since 1993, trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico has more than quadrupled and was valued at $1.2 billion U.S. in 2018.
In 1994, NAFTA created the largest free trade zone in the world. The continental North American economy, which is currently estimated to be worth $23 billion U.S., encompasses a regional market of nearly 490 million consumers.
Under this proven, rules-based free trade system, key sectors of the North American economy have developed into integrated production platforms that strengthen the innovative and competitive economic backbone of North America.
The new agreement will enhance the strong economic ties between the three countries and improve North America's ability to remain competitive globally. This agreement also restores the predictability and stability of economic relations between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
The U.S. took several trade actions that contributed to economic instability for Canadian businesses and their workers. Canada had to choose between either renegotiating NAFTA or seeing the United States withdraw from the agreement. I am pleased that we now have a modern trilateral agreement that turns the page and focuses on the three pillars that make our economic relationship so successful: stability, economic integration, and clear, transparent and enforceable rules.
From the start of the negotiations, Canada set out to achieve key priority outcomes: preserve important NAFTA provisions and market access into the U.S. and Mexico, modernize and improve the agreement as much as possible, and reinforce the security and stability of market access into the U.S. and Mexico for Canadian businesses. We are proud that we achieved those objectives.
It is particularly important to note that the preferential tariff treatment under NAFTA is preserved in CUSMA, which helps consolidate our most important trade relationship. Canada's preferential access to the U.S. and Mexican markets is vital to the continuing prosperity of Canadian workers whose livelihoods rely on this trade.
During consultations with stakeholders, we heard repeatedly about the importance of preserving the benefits of NAFTA and the integrity of North American supply chains. We understand how vital it is to Canadian companies and exporters.
As an annual average from 2016 to 2018, Canada exported $412.2 billion worth of goods to the United States, our top export market. Over the same period, Canada exported an annual average of $9.2 billion worth of goods to Mexico, our fifth-largest trading partner. The new NAFTA ensures continued preferential access to these key export destinations.
Maintaining these tariff outcomes provides Canadians with an advantage over countries without a preferential trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. The agreement ensures predictability and continued secure market access for Canadian exporters to our largest trading partner.
The preserved tariff-free environment also safeguards the integrity of integrated North American supply chains. Other key elements of the original NAFTA have been preserved, including the chapter 19 binational panel dispute settlement mechanism, the state-to-state dispute settlement process, the cultural exemption and temporary entry for business persons.
The new NAFTA also helps open new market access opportunities in the United States for Canadian companies and improves access to existing markets. The new modernized agreement includes new customs measures and will also make it easier for companies to move goods across the border by reducing paper processes and providing a single portal for submitting import documentation electronically.
In particular, the new agreement moves away from the traditional certificate of origin to a new certificate of origin that allows companies to use existing documents in their business process, such as an invoice, to certify origin.
The new NAFTA also includes a new stand-alone chapter on rules of origin and origin procedures for textiles and apparel goods that will support Canada's textile and apparel sector. The agreement preserves the existing market access that Canada has under NAFTA to the U.S. and Mexican markets in these sectors and ensures that the benefits of the agreement go primarily to producers located in North America.
Furthermore, the agreement expands a provision from NAFTA to set out a special procedure to more easily establish the origin of indigenous textiles and apparel. Under this provision, a textile or apparel item that the parties agree is an indigenous handcrafted good will be eligible for duty-free treatment, even if the good does not satisfy the applicable product-specific rule of origin.
The new NAFTA includes provisions that will provide added assurance for exporters that their goods will not be delayed by unjustified or unclear measures at the borders. The section 232 side letter provides added security and stability for Canadian automotive and parts companies that export to the U.S. market and will reaffirm Canada's attractiveness as an investment destination for this sector.
With respect to trade and indigenous peoples, and for the first time in a Canadian free trade agreement, the new NAFTA includes a general exception that clearly confirms that the government can adopt or maintain measures it deems necessary to fulfill its legal obligations to indigenous people. An indigenous working group was established to further the dialogue between the government and indigenous people, to share ideas and work collaboratively on solutions.
We are pleased to have concluded an agreement that incorporates new and modernized provisions that seek to address 21st century trade issues and support opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers. This includes bringing obligations on labour and environment into the agreement and subjecting them to dispute settlement.
It also includes important outcomes for inclusive trade, including with respect to gender equality and the interests of indigenous people. In particular, the new labour chapter includes commitments to protect and promote internationally-recognized labour rights and principles in North America.
This chapter also includes unprecedented protections against violence and gender-based discrimination with regard to sexual orientation, sexual harassment, gender identity, caregiving responsibilities and wage discrimination. It is worth noting that the new chapter also includes a non-derogation clause that prevents the parties from weakening their labour laws to encourage trade or investment.
To address labour violations related to collective bargaining and freedom of association in a timely manner, the agreement also includes new mechanisms for rapid response between Canada and Mexico and between the United States and Mexico.
In the event that, in a state-to-state dispute settlement, one party is found to have violated its obligations with regard to child labour, the other party could trigger the rapid response mechanism to remedy the violation of the child labour obligations.
The full environment chapter, which is subject to the dispute settlement mechanism, includes measures for implementing the parties' obligations under multilateral environmental agreements and responding to global environmental problems, such as illegal wildlife trade, illegal fishing, conservation of species at risk, protection of biodiversity, ozone-depleting substances and marine pollution.
This modernized agreement is good for Canadians because it provides the predictability and stability that businesses and workers sorely need.