Madam Speaker, this piece of legislation demonstrates how the Government of Canada continues to pursue trade opportunities for Canadian businesses and exporters while maintaining certainty and stability in the face of global geopolitical developments that are entirely out of Canada's control. The United Kingdom is Canada's fifth largest trading partner, with bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and the United Kingdom averaging $27.1 billion between 2017 and 2019.
However, I am not here to throw around these numbers that have been widely discussed in this House. Instead, I want to speak about the real-world consequences on Canadian businesses that rely on international market access if this bill is not passed.
Brexit was not something that Canada could control. As international allies of the European Union and the United Kingdom, we are bystanders who have always respected the democratic will of the nation's populace. That being said, this government had to immediately consider the short-, medium- and long-term impacts of such an exit.
Since September 2017, when the former U.K. prime minister landed in Canada to discuss the future trading relationship between our two countries, that is exactly what we worked on. In those initial meetings between the two prime ministers, it was agreed upon that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union, otherwise known as CETA, would serve as a model for a new bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom.
As a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade for several terms, I was privy to the negotiations that went into CETA, and I saw that it was a perfect template to provide a seamless transition in post-Brexit trade with the United Kingdom. This House spent years studying and debating CETA before it received royal assent in May of 2017, so to suggest that Bill C-18 is anything but transparent in terms of its details is nonsense.
Further, it has been suggested by members from across the way that Canada somehow dragged its feet on this agreement. However, once again, this is political posturing that does not reflect the reality of the past few years. The opposition is well aware that under European Union membership rules, the United Kingdom was prohibited from implementing a free trade agreement until it officially left the European Union.
As we all know, Brexit only became official on January 31, 2020. Of course, soon after that date, the world was hit with the global pandemic, which we are still battling in every corner of the globe.
To affirm the reality of what has happened over the past four years, our government has been in a working group with the United Kingdom in a transparent manner to negotiate our post-Brexit trading relationship as per the European Union's membership rules. Further, our government's timeline is completely in line with the significant dates associated with Brexit, as the transition period for the U.K.'s departure just came to an end on December 31, 2020. In spite of what has been said across the way in attempts to score political points, this bill and the continuity agreement are perfect examples of how nimble Canada has been in our trade negotiations across the world, despite circumstances, rules and regulations outside of our purview.
The bill is a necessity to ensure that tariffs are not applied on 98% of products we export to the U.K. This bill is needed to protect the supply management that the Canadian dairy, poultry and egg sectors rely upon. This bill is also significant for the access it provides to the United Kingdom government's massive procurement market, which is estimated to be worth approximately $118 billion.
These kinds of opportunities, particularly with the United Kingdom government's ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are vital for Canadian manufacturers and service providers.
Most importantly, this bill completely acknowledges that this is a stop-gap measure by ensuring that, within 12 months of this continuity agreement being implemented, our two countries will hammer out a new comprehensive bilateral agreement that will be in place within three years.
Earlier in my remarks I mentioned the real-world consequences that would impact Canadian businesses and exporters if this bill was not passed. Extensive in-house modelling and analysis from Global Affairs Canada describes those impacts in stark detail.
Without this agreement, Canada would be subject to the U.K. global tariffs. These would be applied without any special treatment to all Canadian imports, and for service sector providers, all certainty that was achieved through CETA would be completely lost.
The preferential treatment that Canada has enjoyed with the U.K. represents billions of dollars that provide a direct infusion to the Canadian economy and labour market. In fact, Global Affairs Canada puts potential trade losses without this agreement in place at $2 billion, impacting the food, chemical, apparel, machinery and equipment industries dramatically.
This is a bill that recognizes the scale of trade between Canada and the U.K., and takes into account the looming January 31, 2021, deadline while still committing to a robust process for a future bilateral relationship with entirely new terms.
To conclude, this bill and support for it comes down to whether we support opportunities for Canadian businesses and exporters. This is particularly the case with the fact that we will spend the year after its hopeful passage negotiating new terms in close consultation with provinces and the Canadian business and export communities.
This bill is about how we, as a nation, can provide hope in the face of great global economic uncertainty, and reach into the future to continue to grow to the benefit of our country and our workers.
I encourage all members of the House to stand in favour of Bill C-18, which will only continue to blossom if we move forward as a nation that is unified in our pursuit of opportunity.
I want to thank the Speaker and all members for the opportunity to speak to this bill in the House of Commons.