Trade Agreements—ImplementationPublished on 16 May 2017 Hansard and Statements by Senator Art Eggleton
Hon. Art Eggleton:
Minister, congratulations on your appointment. It’s a position I had the pleasure of occupying back in 1996-97, although subjects like softwood lumber were not always pleasurable at that point in time.
One of the things I learned was that trade agreements are great instruments, and you now have a big and beautiful one in terms of the CETA agreement to work on, but they don’t implement themselves. They are only going to get implemented and create the jobs and create the expansion of the economy if business operations become engaged with their goods or services. Sometimes it takes a lot of coaxing to get Canadian companies to go abroad. It’s a lot easier to go to south, and of course all of the years, all of the ministers, including myself, have always had that challenge of diversification of trade.
With the people over there, on the other hand, a lot of them can be aggressive about it, so we can end up getting a lot more trade coming this way than going the other way. It changes the trade balance situation.
You need some instruments for getting people involved in implementing the trade agreement, to create those jobs, to create that expansion. You need to provide the support services to be able to do that. What are you going to do differently to create that diversification that you’ve talked about earlier?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, P.C., M.P., Minister of International Trade: I have enormous respect for those who had the job I had before. I would obviously listen to the honourable senator if he has any advice. He would probably agree with me this is one of the greatest jobs one can have in government.
The honourable senator talked about diversification, and we all know this is a challenge that we have faced not only now but over decades in Canada. I think the challenge I have is what I said at the beginning: to make trade real for people.
As a lawyer, I know these trade agreements are good because they reduce barriers and tariffs. For example, we said that CETA will bring down 9,000 tariff lines and should provide opportunities. I’ll use the example of lobster today. Lobster that is sold from Canada to the EU now is faced with a 25 per cent tariff when it comes on the other side of the Atlantic. On day one of provisional application, tariffs will go down to zero. That’s an example where we need to make sure we work with our people from coast to coast to coast to have an implementation program, a promotion program, and I think the lowest-hanging fruit to our former colleague, I may say, is our SMEs. And this is not just the job of a minister. It is a whole-of-Canada endeavour to make sure, because we have an SME in each of our regions, in each of our ridings, which could benefit from the trade agreement we have negotiated with Europe.
Obviously, it’s about making sure that we give women who are entrepreneurs particular attention and opportunities. It is the same thing with indigenous people and our youth. I had round tables in a number of cities to make sure people see the benefit, but even more important, seize the benefit. Seeing the benefit is something, but seizing it is probably something about which we are going to be relentless.
Like I said, this is not one particular minister, but I’ll try to engage as many Canadians as possible. I would hope that through the trade committee, the Senate would engage as well to make sure. After all, there is one SME, one woman entrepreneur, one young person in your riding or region, and probably one indigenous person who could benefit from this trade agreement. I would put it there are thousands and thousands in Canada. We just need to make sure they can seize that.
Let me give me an example to be concrete. Having been in China recently, I had the privilege of meeting Jack Ma. We talked about these electronic platforms, the e-commerce platforms. It was a fascinating discussion, because these platforms remove a lot of barriers. If you’re a small honey producer in Shawinigan and want to remain local but want to sell in China in that case, these e-commerce platforms are providing a platform to access some of the market.
I met recently with the CEO of eBay, and we’re looking at a number of platforms like that to make trade as easy as possible. Like the honourable senator said, there is enormous opportunity. Canada, as I said before, will have preferential market access to 1.1 billion consumers. This is something that gets noticed around the world. Our progressive trade agenda, one that cares for the environment, and protects labour rights and cultural diversity, is one that is applauded around the world.
CETA has become the gold standard. This is the agreement that is sitting the stage around the world.