Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-30 to implement the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union and its member states.
Before I start, I would like to pass my thanks on to my colleagues, the member for Abbotsford, the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, and former Prime Minister Harper, for their hard work in bringing this about.
I want to start with the obvious. Trade is good. Trade makes markets better. Trade lowers prices for consumers and gives them more options. Trade does not make life better just for wealthy Canadians; it makes life better for all Canadians.
I am always proud to stand in this House to defend agreements and legislation that make life better for Canadians. I spoke to Bill C-30 at second reading back in November. In that speech, I spoke to four points about why I am supporting the agreement. I want to expand on a few of them today.
First, as I mentioned, trade is good for Canada. A more competitive market means Canadians have access to the best products, at the best prices. Lowering or eliminating tariffs on goods that we import for our own consumption means that the price we pay for these goods will drop.
Again, I will always stand up to defend policies that lower prices for my constituents, and for all Canadians.
Trade agreements help Canadians from both perspectives: consumers benefit when we have lower prices and producers benefit when they can have greatly expanded markets to sell their goods.
Farmers in Alberta can now sell their products to not only people in Ontario, Quebec, and B.C., but once CETA passes, basically duty-free to Belgians, Germans, the French, and every other country signatory to this agreement. The EU represents some 500 million people, with almost $20 trillion in economic activity. The EU's imports alone are worth more than our entire GDP.
If we want our producers to grow, we must ensure they can access newer, bigger, and hungrier markets. When our producers have more customers, they need more workers to fill that demand. I do not think I have to remind members in this House that we could use a few extra jobs in Alberta right now.
CETA is projected at a $12-billion annual increase to our economy. I know $12 billion can be an abstract number, but a $12-billion increase is equivalent to adding $1,000 to the average family income each and every year, or 80,000 jobs.
Some of those jobs will help my constituents in Edmonton West and the constituents of colleagues across Alberta.
CETA will help Alberta grow, access new markets for our goods, and will help Albertans access products at lower prices.
For our producers, the EU is already Alberta's fourth-largest export destination and our third-largest trading partner. The EU currently imports over $2 trillion annually, of which Alberta makes up $1.4 billion. We have just .07% of the European market. We have plenty of room to grow. Alberta's main exports to the EU include high-value items as well as resources, such as nickel, turbo-propellers and other machinery, cereals, medical instruments, cobalt, electrical machinery, mineral fuel and oil, services, wood pulp, inorganic chemicals, meat, animal feed, grains, seed, fruit, plastic, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, beverages, iron and steel products, and animal products.
For our consumers, nearly 100% of all non-agricultural products will be duty-free and nearly 94% of all agricultural products will be duty-free.
Once in force, CETA would eliminate tariffs on almost all of Alberta's exports and enable Alberta's job creators access to new market opportunities in the EU. Eliminating tariffs on almost of all of our exports means we would have more competitive pricing to offer to the more than 500 million new customers. It is like moving our lemonade stand from a neighbourhood street corner to Times Square. The potential for us is enormous.
CETA would also provide Alberta exporters with a competitive advantage over exporters from other countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the EU. That is like moving our lemonade stand from the neighbourhood street corner to Times Square where our competitor is stuck in a location with no traffic and higher costs.
On the day CETA's provisions enter force, 98% of Canadian goods would be duty-free. For agriculture and agrifood products, almost 94% of EU tariffs on Canadians goods would be eliminated, rising to 95% once all phase-outs are complete. This duty-free access would give Canadian agricultural goods, including beef, pork, and bison, preferential access to the European market.
I know some of my colleagues have this stereotypical image that Albertans are all ranchers and cowboys. I hate to play into that stereotype, but I cannot pass up this opportunity to remind the House how important beef is to the Albertan economy and what CETA means to this. According to the CBC, because of CETA, Canada is poised to supply about 1% of all the beef needs in Europe under this new pact. That would mean $600 million for Alberta, $600 million in new business, $600 million in new jobs.
As well, the following industries in Alberta would benefit. The first one is metals and minerals. Alberta's metals and minerals sectors include natural gas, conventional oil, coal, minerals, and the oil sands. More specifically, Alberta's metal refinery and mineral sector is a foundational industry that allows for infrastructure development as well as energy and natural resource production in Alberta. It generated 28% of the province's total GDP in 2011, and employs more than 181,000 Albertans, creating employment opportunities that provide some of the highest earnings in the Alberta economy. Exports of metals and minerals currently face tariffs as high as 10%.
There is agriculture and agrifood. Alberta has more than 50,000 farms with crop and livestock production. They produce an abundance of world-class agriculture commodities. The agriculture and agrifood sector employs nearly 76,000 Albertans and contributes 2.5% to the GDP. Between 2010 and 2012, the exports of agriculture products to the EU suffered tariffs of over $35 million. That is $35 million that can be reinvested in the economy, jobs, and productivity improvement.
There are forest products. The forest products sector employs nearly 19,000 Albertans and represents a significant component of the economy. Forest product exports to the EU average $62 million and face up to a 10% tariff right now. These barriers would be eliminated under CETA.
There is advanced manufacturing. Alberta's advanced manufacturing industry employs more than 28,000 people. Between 2010 and 2012, Alberta's exports of advanced manufacturing products to the EU averaged a quarter of a billion dollars, which face tariffs as high as 22%. Industrial machinery, one of Alberta's key advanced manufacturing exports to the EU, faces tariffs of up to 8%.
Alberta is a major producer of chemicals and plastics. It employs 11,000 Albertans, an important part of exports to the EU, with exports averaging just under $100 million a year. These exports currently face tariffs of up to 6.5%. Again, these would be eliminated.
In addition to beef and agriculture products, CETA would also provide for increases in eligible trade for products with high sugar content. This stipulation would enable a company like PepsiCo, which has a large bottling facility in Edmonton's west end as well as other parts of Alberta, to continue to ship its products abroad and find new customers in new markets duty free. The stipulation for sugary products would also help local Edmonton start-ups, such as JACEK Chocolate Couture, which opened in Sherwood Park last year, and has now expanded into Canmore as well as downtown Edmonton. It will help it to hire new employees and reach a massive new market base.
CETA will open up markets for our burgeoning alcoholic beverage companies, which products are very well known to members of the Alberta Conservative caucus. There are over 50 breweries in Alberta, including favourites like Big Rock, Alley Kat, and Yellowhead. There are distilleries like Eau Claire Distillery, which makes gin and vodka from only local Alberta grains, and Park Distillery, based in Banff, that makes a vodka with glacial waters from the Rockies.
Closer to my home in Edmonton, there is Red Cup Distilling in Vegreville. I am wearing the button today supporting Vegreville. There is also the Big Rig Craft Distillery in Nisku, by the Edmonton airport, where people can get brum, which is basically rum made with sugar beets instead of sugar cane. I want to note it is called brum and not rum, so as not to run afoul with the rum lobby. If the all-powerful rum lobby is watching on CPAC today, please note I called it a brum and not a rum.
Edmonton is home to many head offices of world-class companies that are said to grow, compete, and win with access to this huge new market. PCL Construction has finished Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton, the finest hockey and event arena in the entire world. Stantec engineering, Booster Juice, and Weatherford are all based in Edmonton.
Edmonton is also renowned for its start-up culture, and many new enterprises will benefit from increased access to markets and added IP protection. TappCar is a ride-share company that has gained ground by working with municipal governments rather than circumventing local laws. Drizly is an app that arranges liquor deliveries. Should it expand to the Parliament Hill area, I am sure that sales will spike massively. My wife's personal favourite is Poppy Barley shoes, which has grown from a small, shared office space downtown to Edmonton's famous Whyte Avenue, with pop-ups in Toronto.
Edmonton also boasts having three of the top fifteen start-up companies in Canada, as named by Metabridge. The first is LoginRadius, which does customer analytics and serves over 1,000 businesses worldwide. There is Mover, a company that handles cloud file migration. The third company is Showbie, which helps teachers, schools, and students get connected across technology platforms.
Edmonton's bread-and-butter business, the oil and gas sector, stands to benefit tremendously from CETA by increasing market access to our oil and gas products. The Prime Minister wants to phase out oil and gas, but CETA represents a grand opportunity for Canada's job-creating and economic-driving industry to capitalize on new customers.
Supplier diversification is one of the European Union's top energy priorities. Currently Russia has 31% of the EU's oil and gas import market share, making it first. Canada has just 1% of the market share, placing us 26th. It is well known that Russian President Putin uses his country's oil and gas reserves as a weapon. Given that Russia supplies almost one-third of the EU's oil and gas, this position is strong. The EU needs to diversify, wants to diversify, and Alberta has plenty to offer. Not only will this create wealth and jobs in Alberta and the rest of Canada, it will help to free Europe from the bullying and blackmail of the Russian president and deprive him of his desperately needed revenues that he uses to threaten our democratic allies. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper famously told Putin to get out of Ukraine. CETA will help us get him out of Europe's oil and gas business.
As CETA reduces and eliminates tariffs across the board for oil and gas products, Canada and Alberta are well poised to fill the gap and become a crucial energy ally. This is an opportunity that we should not pass up, and frankly cannot pass up. The government may perhaps one day support energy east, and then we can ship Alberta oil to Quebec and New Brunswick for refining and stop sending jobs and billions of dollars to despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia.
Beyond energy, free trade helps foster greater co-operation between our democratic allies. We strongly support international trade initiatives that strengthen the bonds with friendly countries, increase economic productivity, and drive prosperity and job creation.
The world is full of uncertainty, and prior champions of trade and co-operation are retreating. This comes at an unfortunate time for Canada. Our country has the fastest-growing population in the OECD, and the west has the fastest-growing and youngest population in Canada. We have products. We have workers. We have the businesses. We will continue to have more people and more products over the next few years, and we need places to sell these goods.
CETA is an opportunity for us to secure access to the largest single market in the world at a time when other countries are retreating. Not only will this agreement help to give our job creators access to growing and demanding markets, it will give Canadians a head-start advantage over our competitors who are retreating from the global marketplace.
Even after all of these benefits I have discussed and talked about, CETA's detractors argue that the costs outweigh the benefits. They will say that CETA gives too much power to corporations and will allow them to sue governments for compensation if they change policies. The argument is callously thrown around as a holistic and negative point. It is just an assertion.
According to a summary in The Globe and Mail, CETA opens up a new process called the investment court system, or ICS. The ICS essentially acts as a permanent tribunal to handle complaints brought by businesses. Canada and the EU have hailed the ICS as a breakthrough offering a high level of protection for investors while fully preserving the right of governments to regulate and pursue legitimate public policy objectives, such as the protection of health, safety, and our environment.
It is perfectly legitimate for businesses that act in good faith and set up shop in new countries because of a trade agreement to be able to protect themselves from arbitrary changes by the host government. If governments agree to and sign a trade agreement, they agree to be bound by the provisions of that trade agreement with some exceptions. It is unreasonable to make governments the sole power holder in this arrangement.
If we expect companies to come to Canada, to do business in Canada, to create work for Canadians, and create wealth for our country, we must be able to guarantee them some modicum of stability and predictability, or at least grant them some recourse if a future government makes arbitrary changes that violate the provisions of that trade agreement. This is a two-way street, and businesses do not deserve less protection just because they are creating jobs, making investments, and earning profits.
At the same time, it is also important that governments are able to react to changing circumstances and create legislation that is good for Canadians in the event that exceptional circumstances arise. This is why CETA has built in provisions to protect both business and government.
I want to note here that Canadian investment in the EU was almost a quarter of a trillion dollars as of 2014. That is Canadian investment that will also be protected from the whims of a changing political landscape in Europe.
The Consider Canada City Alliance is a partnership with 12 of our largest cities. These cities represent 63% of Canada's GDP and 57% of our population. They work to increase investment in Canada and grow trade opportunities.
Our own highly respected Edmonton Economic Development Corporation is part of this coalition. Michael Darch, president of the CCCA states:
We see Canada moving toward creating the largest trading and investment block in the world. The cities that comprise the Consider Canada City Alliance account for 63% of Canada's GDP fully understand that our economic prosperity is built on global trade and investment....
Modern commerce is much more than moving goods across the borders. It is about financial and knowledge-based consulting services, digital commerce and entertainment, and the freedom of movement for the skilled workers who are creating the 21st century global economy.... CETA addresses these and many more opportunities. Canada is demonstrating leadership in building the agreements necessary to protect our economic future and guarantee access to prosperity for all Canadians.
The Consider Canada Alliance has listed its top five reasons for supporting CETA. Number one is “dollars and sense”. It “will increase Canada-EU trade by 20% and boost Canada's economy by $12 billion...”
Number two is “unparalleled market access”. “Once...CETA comes into force...investors in Canada will have assured preference access to both NAFTA and the EU” with nearly one billion customers combined and a GDP of over $35 trillion.
Number three is “enhanced investor protection”, as I just mentioned. “CETA will provide Canadian and EU investors with greater certainty, transparency and protection for their investments.” Again, I note, Canadians have invested a quarter of a trillion dollars in the EU. That is Canadian investment that will be protected from the whims of a changing landscape in Europe.
Number four is “easing of investment restrictions”. “The net benefit review threshold under the Investment Canada Act will be raised from the current $600 million to $1.5 billion, following CETA's entry into force.”
Number five is that it “signals open trade, not closed borders”. “While populist movements in some developed countries appear to be antagonistic to expanding trade agreements, Canadian cities are welcoming aggressive investment interests from across Europe and around the world during investment missions conducted in partnership with Federal [and provincial] colleagues.”
Again, I repeat, trade is good. Trade lowers prices and enables competitive and valued Canadian businesses to expand, hire new employees, and prosper in a globalized world. Trade helps strengthen ties with our allies. We will always support international initiatives that nurture greater co-operation between Canada and our friends overseas. Free trade allows billions of dollars in Canadian exports to reach new markets and ensures that European goods flow into Canada at competitive prices for our consumers. Free trade will help Alberta's businesses grow and prosper at a time when Alberta needs it most.
I am proud to support this agreement that will help Alberta's small and large businesses, Albertan consumers, Canadian industry, Canadian producers, and that will deepen our long-standing ties between Canada and Europe.