The House resumed from October 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea, be read the third time and passed.
Ms. Laurin Liu (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to continue speaking to Bill C-41, the Canada-South Korea free trade agreement.
It is my great pleasure and honour to support this bill and this free trade agreement, the crux of which is tariff lines between Canada and South Korea. The NDP believes that this free trade agreement will benefit Canadian industries and that it can produce plenty of positive economic spinoffs for Canadian industries, such as aerospace.
First, I want to point out that Korea is one of Canada's biggest trading partners. It is Canada's seventh-largest trading partner, the third-largest in Asia after China and Japan. In 2003, Canadian exports to South Korea totalled $33.4 billion while Korean exports to Canada totalled $7.3 billion.
The NDP supports a balanced and sensible approach to free trade agreements. We believe it is critical to review each individual agreement to determine its benefits. The NDP believes that Canada must negotiate free trade agreements with trading partners that respect democracy and human rights and have adequate environmental and labour rights standards. That is the case in South Korea.
In addition, the trading partner's economy must be of significant or strategic value to Canada. As I explained in my speech, this free trade agreement with Korea passes that test. We also have to ensure that the terms of the proposed agreement are satisfactory. I know that a number of stakeholders, including most Canadian industrial sectors, have said this is an excellent agreement. That cannot be said of all of the free trade agreements negotiated by the Conservative government over the past few months and years.
The NDP understands the importance of implementing this free trade agreement as of January 1. In fact, Korea already has free trade agreements with the European Union and the United States. Since those countries implemented their free trade agreements with Korea, Canadian exporters have been losing significant market share. What is more, each year, Korean tariffs come down for EU and U.S. exporters as a result of those agreements. This is estimated to cost Canadian producers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. We therefore understand how urgent it is to implement this free trade agreement as soon as possible. The losses have been particularly heavy in the agri-foods, seafood and aerospace sectors. I would like to emphasize the aerospace sector in particular since it is essential to the economic well-being of the riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.
It is also important to note that there are high rates of unionization in these sectors. We therefore strongly believe that this free trade agreement with Korea will encourage the creation of stable, unionized jobs, which will help Canadians make ends meet.
Canada’s largest private-sector union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, has publicly supported the Korean free trade agreement. This union represents tens of thousands of workers in the food processing, seafood, milling, agricultural and distilling sectors.
I am very proud to be a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, where I have been able to work with our critic for international trade. We worked extremely hard to improve Bill C-41. Although we support the bill and although it will be beneficial to Canada, we believe that it is not perfect and that it can be improved.
The NDP proposed three amendments to the Standing Committee on International Trade, which were defeated not only by the Conservatives, who hold a majority on the committee, but also by the Liberal member who sits on that committee.
One of the amendments that the NDP critic proposed to improve the bill sought to eliminate the investor state dispute settlement mechanism. The NDP believes that this is a rather controversial aspect of the bill because we are talking about a free trade agreement between two democratic countries with solid and stable legal systems.
The Conservative government has a history of negotiating free trade agreements that contain these investor state dispute settlement mechanisms. These free trade agreements are even a cornerstone of this government. However, we do not believe that such a measure is necessary in a free trade agreement with South Korea.
As we have seen in the news in recent weeks, many countries did not agree with this investor state dispute settlement mechanism. Germany, for one, has spoken out against these mechanisms in free trade agreements.
The main opposition party in South Korea also opposes this mechanism, and an NDP government would negotiate with South Korea in order to get rid of it. This mechanism definitely does not have unanimous support in the international community.
The good thing about this free trade agreement is that it is not binding on the governments for 31 years, like the Canada-China investment agreement, or FIPA. Unlike that investment protection agreement, the free trade agreement with South Korea has guaranteed transparency rules for investor state dispute settlement tribunals, and the hearings must be held in public. That is at least one good thing about this bill.
I would like to digress for a moment and talk about intellectual property. I would like to quote an expert in this area who is often quoted in this House, Michael Geist. He also often appears as a witness before parliamentary committees.
I encourage any Canadians who might be interested, including my constituents in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, to look for and read what he has written on the Canada-South Korea free trade agreement.
Unfortunately, I do not have time to read the text in full, but this illustrates at least that the section on intellectual property has some positive aspects that we can support.
I will quote from what Michael Geist wrote.
|| The IP chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals--particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia--the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. The approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections.
Later in his article he says:
||...the Canada--South Korea agreement may provide a model for many other countries that wish to include intellectual property provisions in their trade agreements but are content to require each party to meet international standards rather than the domestic rules of one of the parties. The U.S. and E.U. approach has been to export their rules to other countries, but Canada and South Korea have demonstrated that respect for domestic choices and compliance [to] international obligations is a better alternative.
The free trade agreement between Canada and Korea is interesting in its approach to intellectual property.
Since I have just a minute left, I would like to reiterate that the NDP has a balanced approach to free trade agreements. We will look at the text of the free trade agreement with the European Union and consult Canadians before deciding whether or not we will support it. Nonetheless, the free trade agreement between Canada and Korea is a positive, model agreement. I am proud to support it.
Our approach is not like that of the Conservative government at all. The government wants to negotiate free trade agreements with every country, regardless of their record on respecting human rights and without any concern for the benefits to Canada. We must choose our trade partners carefully, and that is what an NDP government will do.
Mr. John Carmichael (Don Valley West, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to be sharing my time with the member for Kelowna—Lake Country.
It is my pleasure to reiterate the importance of Canada's free trade agreement with Korea. No government in Canada's history has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. Deepening Canada's trading relationships in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world is key to these efforts. Our government understands the importance of trade to our economy. It represents one out of every five jobs in Canada and accounts for more than 60% of our country's annual income.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is an ambitious state-of-the-art agreement covering virtually all sectors and aspects of trade between Canada and Korea. It would also be Canada's first free trade agreement with an Asian market.
When President Park of the Republic of Korea visited Canada in September, she and the Prime Minister also announced their intention to develop an agreement on science, technology, and innovation co-operation between our two countries. I would like to focus my remarks on this important development in the Canada-Korea relationship.
Canada is globally renowned for its strength in innovation, its R and D capacity, and its highly trained workforce. Research and development is crucial for Canada's success as a trading nation. It plays a key role in shaping the economy and creating the jobs of the future. It creates new goods and services that improve the standard of living for Canadians and for communities around the world.
The Canadian science, technology, and innovation landscape is rich and diverse. Our Conservative government understands the importance of science, technology, and innovation in addressing key societal challenges. Indeed, all Canadians know our future growth and place in the world will increasingly be driven by our ability to innovate.
Let me provide some insights into how innovation is linked to economic development. The Science, Technology and Innovation Council of Canada describes science and technology, and specifically research and development, as involving the “creation of new knowledge”. Innovation requires that knowledge or technology introduced into the marketplace or into an organization creates value. Being able to translate ideas from the lab to the marketplace is extremely important for Canada.
To remain successful in the highly competitive global economy, Canada must continue to improve its approach for developing high-quality, talented people performing world-leading research and generating new breakthrough ideas. Our government recognizes that protectionist restrictions stifle our exporters and undermine Canada's competitiveness, which in turn adversely affects middle-class Canadian families. International collaboration in science, technology, and innovation is increasingly important to our ability to stay at the leading edge.
Canada generates about 4.1% of global knowledge, despite accounting for just 0.5% of the world's population. That is courtesy of the Council of Canadian Academies, The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012. Clearly, we are punching above our weight, and our linkages with international innovation leaders are crucial to maintaining our advantage.
Korea is an ideal partner for Canada in science, technology, and innovation co-operation. Strengthening relations with Korea through a formal agreement would allow Canada to build a lasting strategic framework with one of the world's most innovative economies. Korea is not only a top funder of research and development projects, but an expert in introducing new technologies into the marketplace. These are the types of partners Canada needs to advance our expertise in innovation.
In addition to supporting the relationship between the two countries, a science, technology, and innovation agreement would complement the Canada-Korea free trade agreement by enhancing opportunities for Canadian industry to gain access to cutting-edge research networks and technology in Korea.
A preliminary analysis suggests that the most promising sectors for co-operation align with those that would be supported by Canada's free trade agreement with Korea, namely aerospace; automotive; energy, including sustainable technologies; advanced manufacturing; health and life sciences, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices; and information communication technology, or ICTs.
If the House will permit me, I would like to discuss the benefits that would accrue to Canadians from strengthening the Canada-Korea science, technology, and innovation relationship.
A science, technology, and innovation or STI agreement would be supported by robust CKFTA outcomes in the areas of services, investment, temporary entry, and intellectual property.
The services and investment provisions would provide Canadian suppliers of professional services such as R and D with greater and more predictable access to the Korean market and would encourage additional investment in the science, technology, and innovation sectors.
Temporary entry provisions would provide new preferential access to the Korean market, facilitating movement between Canada and South Korea for business visitors.
The free trade agreement's commitment to strong intellectual property rights and rules for their enforcement would provide Canadians who develop and market innovative and creative products with access to the Korean market. An STI agreement would be an effective tool to assist Canadian companies to increase exports of value-added industrial and advanced manufacturing products, making Korea an attractive market not only for our traditional energy and agricultural exports but also for science, technology, and innovation exports. An STI agreement would also benefit Canada by facilitating increased access for Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, as well as research institutes and universities to Korea's innovative ecosystem and global value chains. Canada's R and D largely depends on our universities. Korea relies much more on industry. The Korean R and D approach can help Canada commercialize research and scale products.
Finally, an STI agreement with Korea would strengthen people-to-people ties by providing a forum for government, researchers, industry, and key Canadian stakeholders to develop opportunities to collaborate and leverage the latest R and D and technological advancements in strategic sectors. It would increase knowledge of innovation systems by providing a forum for both countries to learn about respective STI policies, programs, and government funding structures, providing further insights into innovation, growth, and export strategies.
We stand with Canadians, incredibly disappointed that New Democrats tried to completely gut the bill at the trade committee, where they tabled amendments to remove the investor protection provisions, which are the cornerstones of modern trade and investment agreements. This is just as harmful as the neglect of international trade under the Liberals, who took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations and put Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets.
Fortunately, our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians. Thanks to the actions under our government's free trade leadership, Canadian workers, businesses, and exporters now have preferred access and a real competitive edge in more markets around the world than at any other time in our history.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is yet another example of how we are getting the job done. This agreement would strengthen our trade and investment ties across the Pacific, increase the prosperity of both our countries, and create jobs and enhanced opportunities for Canadian businesses.
With that, I call for the prompt implementation of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement for the benefit of Canada and all Canadians.
Hon. Ron Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this important free trade agreement and to share my time with the hard-working member for Don Valley West.
I will start off by reconfirming that there is no government in Canada's history that has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. The Minister of International Trade has been spending many days away from home trying to secure new markets and to deepen Canada's trading relationships in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world. I think it is key to these efforts.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement, Canada's first FTA with an Asia-Pacific nation, is an ambitious, state-of-the-art agreement covering virtually all sectors and aspects of free trade.
Today I will speak specifically to the foundation of the agreement, which is the extensive and profound people-to-people ties that bind Canada and South Korea. I think that is a very important aspect that has not really been talked about.
It is an increasingly interconnected world. People-to-people ties are crucial to ensuring long-term success in the competitive global economy. It is all about relationships, and this free trade agreement is a classic example. It is a landmark achievement that would result in mutual benefits and prosperity for both of our countries and that would lay the foundation to unlock the full potential of our political, economic, and secure relations.
Canada can leverage its rich history and flourishing people-to-people ties with South Korea to build on this free trade agreement and pave the pathway to jobs and prosperity for generations to come.
Canada and South Korea have had formal diplomatic relations for over 50 years, yet the connections between our two peoples extend back more than a century. Prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1963, Canada came to South Korea's aid in the Korean War, contributing the third-largest contingent of troops to UN forces. More than 26,000 Canadian soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder with their Korean brothers and sisters against the spread of tyranny. Unfortunately, more than 500 individuals ultimately gave their lives. George Barr, from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26 in my riding, and others across Canada, have been incredible ambassadors for the Canada-Korea relationship. The memories of helping folks in Korea and Canada continue to strengthen that bond.
Korean President Park was here last month for her official state visit, and she laid a wreath in memory at the National War Memorial. It was one of the highlights of her visit and was a testament to the importance of the shared history of our two nations.
When I had the honour of travelling with the Prime Minister and the delegation in March for the initial signing of the agreement in Seoul, the Prime Minister and the delegation laid a wreath at the Seoul National Cemetery, as well.
I would like to take a moment to think about Corporal Cirillo. His funeral procession is taking place in Hamilton right now. I am thinking about soldiers, the men and women who sacrifice their lives, and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families as well.
After the Korean War, almost 7,000 additional Canadian soldiers served as peacekeepers in South Korea between 1953 and 1957. Canada also participated in supervising South Korea's first elections in 1948 as part of the United Nations temporary commission on Korea. Aside from the United States, Canada is the only other state that has permanent military representation, with the United Nations Command, otherwise known as the UNC, in Korea.
Canada continues to participate in the UNC Military Armistice Commission that supervises the armistice. Last year, a delegation of Canadian veterans, led by the current Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, travelled to South Korea to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice on July 27, 2013.
Building on our proud and shared history, our bilateral relationship is further championed and advanced by our strong, growing, people-to-people ties. Canada is home to some 200,000 people who identify themselves as being of Korean origin. It is the fourth-largest Korean diaspora in the world. Over 23,000 Canadians are currently residing in South Korea, including around 3,200 language teachers.
Last year, our government designated the year 2013 the Year of Korea in Canada. It marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Korea and celebrated the contributions of the Korean diaspora to Canadian society.
The Year of Korea in Canada featured a number of cultural and artistic events. I am sure many members had the opportunity to take them in. There were great festivities across the country that gave Canadians the opportunity to learn more about Korean culture, tradition, and diversity.
The Canada-Korea Interparliamentary Friendship Group is co-chaired by Senator Yonah Martin, Canada's first and only Korean senator, an incredible, hard-working individual. She shares that responsibility with our acting Speaker, the member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, who has held three successful Canada-Korea dialogue series on the Hill, the last of which was held in June this year. It was attended by more than 100 participants.
Senator Martin, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, and the member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock also travelled to Seoul, Korea, in September to meet with senior government officials, Korean national assembly members, and business officials to discuss the wide-ranging benefits of the trade agreement to continue to move this agreement forward.
Some Canadians were a bit disappointed with the NDP at committee recently when members tried to remove what I believe is one of the cornerstones of a modern trade agreement, the investor protection provisions. The Liberals talked about this trade agreement in 2003, but it was our Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade who were actually able to get this over the goal line.
The opposition had taken us virtually out of the game of international trade. It was not a priority for them, and I understand their reasons. However, our government wants to create jobs and open doors and opportunities to put Canadian workers and businesses first. The opposition put us at severe risk of falling behind in the era of global markets, but that has changed in a positive manner. Fortunately for Canadians, our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians.
Last month, during President Park's visit to Canada, our government announced its intent to develop a science, technology, and innovation agreement with South Korea, providing Canada with the opportunity to further strengthen the people-to-people ties and to build a lasting strategic framework with one of the world's most innovative economies and top funders of research and development.
The agreement would provide Canadian stakeholders with opportunities to create new partnerships and enhance business-to-business linkages through a mechanism that would directly support bilateral, industry-led research and development funding projects in strategic areas.
As well, I am proud to say that our education ties are extensive and growing. I am sure members from all parties have constituents who have gone to South Korea. It is Canada's third-largest source of international students. We have had constituents going there to teach, and we have had more than 19,000 young and talented students choose Canada as the destination of choice to pursue their education. Based on the average estimated expenditure by international students in Canada per year, that would translate to Korean students contributing over $500 million to the Canadian economy. Many high-calibre international students choose to stay in Canada post-graduation, leading to the enrichment of human capital in Canada. Those who go back to Korea are some of Canada's best ambassadors.
There are over 100 active agreements among institutions in Canada and South Korea facilitating the exchange of students, faculty, staff, and curricula and providing joint research and degree programs. That is very important. The Government of Canada has a number of memoranda of understanding with South Korea, including in the areas of industrial science, engineering and technology, research, co-operation, clean technologies, energy, and Arctic research and development.
On tourism, over 140,000 Korean tourists visited Canada in 2013. It is the eighth-largest source of tourists to Canada, which is very important to my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country. They spent almost $250 million in the Canadian economy. South Korea is one of the Canadian Tourism Commission's top-ten priority leisure markets. In 2013, the annual growth in the number of Korean tourists to Canada stood at 3.3%. An estimated four million Korean travellers are actively considering a Canadian holiday in the next two years.
On September 22, the Prime Minister and Korean President Park witnessed the signing of an open-skies air transport agreement between Canada and Korea, another significant milestone moving forward.
Ultimately our goal is to create jobs and growth for the benefit of Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. That is why we will continue to deliver pro-export leadership.
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise once again in the House to speak to Bill C-41 on the free trade agreement with South Korea. I will share my time with the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River.
I have been a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade for over a year, so I can say that I understand the issues raised by my Conservative colleagues, since the NDP has been trying for years to convince the government to adopt a fair and balanced approach to international trade negotiations.
Since the Conservatives came to power, they have adopted a rather simplistic approach to international trade. First, they completely discarded the notion of multilateralism, which is extremely important in a globalized economy like ours. They decided to adopt a bilateral approach and to sign free trade agreements with as many countries as possible. It almost seems as though we are in a time-limited relay race, as though the government has to sign as many free trade agreements with every country in the world before a certain date.
However, free trade in and of itself is not harmful. It is an extremely important aspect of our global economy. Nevertheless, it is just as important to take a fair and balanced approach and to gauge the interests of our own industries versus Canada's competitiveness on the international scene.
The Conservatives must understand that their simplistic approach to international trade is harming our businesses, not making them more competitive. When so many bilateral free trade agreements are being signed with other countries, there has to be a complementary approach at the national level. We need to give our businesses the support they need to remain competitive and ensure that there is reciprocity between the two states.
To summarize my opening comments, the free trade agreement with South Korea will be good for our economy and for all Canadians. However, as is the case with any approach, if we do not provide the necessary support to our own industries, unfortunately, they will lose out in the long term. We saw that happen when thousands of jobs were lost in our auto sector and manufacturing industry.
In my riding, the manufacturing industry has suffered a great deal because of lack of support from successive governments. Several hundreds, if not thousands, of manufacturing jobs have been lost in Quebec. It is wrong to think that signing dozens of free trade agreements can erase all that. The government's role is to negotiate free trade agreements, of course, but it must also provide Canadian industries with the support and tools they need to remain competitive on the international scene.
The NDP will be supporting the free trade agreement. It is really unfortunate that the government decided to vote against our amendments. We proposed three, as the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles said, and they were all rejected by the Conservative majority on the Standing Committee on International Trade. That situation is all too familiar for me. This is not the first time we have tried to work with the Conservatives and had them leave us in the dark and reject all of our attempts to improve legislation that has been introduced in the House of Commons.
Yes, on the whole, the free trade agreement will be good for Canada.
Since 1987, South Korea has become a democratic, multi-party democracy. It respects the fundamental values of democracy and human rights, and its labour rights standards are adequate. In terms of environmental protection, I would say that the Conservative government could learn a thing or two from South Korea. A few years ago, that country adopted a renewable energy and environmental protection policy that has made it a world leader in green energy. It seems to me that the Conservatives could learn a few things from our friends in South Korea, who have made the environment a priority.
South Korea's economy is extremely active and is very important to Canada. I believe that our exports to and imports from South Korea are comparable to our trade with European nations. It is therefore of strategic value to Canadians.
Having studied all of these criteria, the NDP decided to support this bill. As my colleagues have mentioned a few times, our agriculture, automotive and aerospace industries will benefit significantly from this free trade agreement. However, there is always a “but”: a free trade agreement will stimulate the economy, but only up to a point because our industries will now compete with other industries. If the government does not give them the tools and support they need, our industries could suffer in the long term, unfortunately.
A free trade agreement can be part of a strategy, but unfortunately, if we look at the big picture, the government has failed in its duty toward our Canadian industries, particularly the automobile and manufacturing industries, because it has not provided them with the support they need, nor has it implemented adequate industrial and economic stimulation policies for our industries, which are now suffering as a result.
My riding in eastern Montreal, La Pointe-de-l'Île, is home to many manufacturing industries that would benefit greatly from some help from the federal government. Unfortunately, they have been forgotten. Perhaps the government has won the race to see how many free trade agreements it could sign, but it has failed in its duty to protect Canadian jobs, including jobs in Quebec and in my riding in particular, La Pointe-de-l'Île.
This brings me to my final point. The Conservatives like to point fingers at us. They are saying that it does not make sense that the NDP wants to get rid of the part on investor state dispute settlement. I would like to remind all Canadians who are listening that their tax dollars—hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact—have been given to American companies because they challenged our regulations on the environment and on public health. These kinds of provisions do not need to be included in any free trade agreement, because unfortunately, our capacity and our sovereignty as a nation and as a House of Commons to make regulations to protect the environment and public health have been up for negotiation. Chapter 11 of NAFTA has given us ample evidence of this. Indeed, Canada has had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers' money to American companies because they did not agree with our environmental protection measures.
It is all well and good to point fingers at the NDP, but unfortunately, the facts and figures show that these kinds of provisions are not good for Canadians.
Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, as has already been indicated, the NDP will be supporting the bill at third reading. I am glad to see that my friend from Kitchener—Conestoga is happy about that.
Mr. Harold Albrecht: Hear, hear!
Mr. John Rafferty: Mr. Speaker, when the NDP looks at trade deals, we use four very important criteria to assess these deals.
Is the proposed partner one who respects democracy and human rights, and does it have adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values?
If there are challenges in these regards, is the partner moving towards these goals?
Is the proposed partner's economy of significant or strategic value to Canada? On this point, I might just comment on the minister's question for the previous speaker.
Currently, seafood from both our coasts is subject, in some cases, to 47% tariffs. Under this deal, not all but most of those tariffs would disappear, which would certainly be good for fishers on both of our coasts. Therefore, on the question of this deal being of strategic value, in many areas it is, and a little later I will talk about the wood and forest industry.
Also, are the terms of the agreement satisfactory, and are they of net benefit to Canada?
There are some issues, which I will talk about in a moment, but on balance, this trade agreement is with a democratic country that has high standards. It is a good deal, and so Canada can support it.
Furthermore, South Korea is an established democracy that has high standards for labour rights, human rights, and environmental protections. It is a large market that offers significant opportunities for Canadian business to gain a foothold in the important Asian market area. Of course, it is also an opportunity for Canada to diversify its trade.
As the forestry critic for the official opposition, I will say a few words about forestry and wood products in this particular deal.
Canada's forestry and wood products industry includes newsprint, wood pulp, wood panels, and other value-added products. Even with the downsizing and the loss of 48,000 jobs in the last few years, the forest industry still contributes over $20 billion to Canada's GDP, and it still employs 230,000 Canadians in primary and secondary manufacturing. Many of these jobs are for high-skilled trades.
Canadian exporters to Korea are really at a disadvantage by tariff lines on Canadian wood products, which are, in some cases, up to 10%. Now, 10% might not sound nearly as bad as up to 47% for some seafood products from Canada, but 10% in a very competitive business means a lot of money on the bottom line for Canadian forest companies.
It is important to note that this free trade agreement would provide growth opportunities for value-added wood products, which would help develop good family-sustaining jobs in the value-added economy. As we move forward, this would be good for the forest and wood products in my critic area.
The Korean free trade agreement is different from the European and China agreements. I will highlight some of the differences, which might help to further explain why we are supporting this trade deal with Korea.
Unlike the China deal, the terms in the South Korea free trade agreement are reciprocal. I think that is a very important element to keep in mind as we move forward in this debate.
The Korea free trade agreement would not apply to provincial, territorial, or municipal procurement or crown corporations, where most Canadian procurement is located. That is good for businesses like Bombardier in my riding, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, so that if the City of Toronto, for example, decides it needs new streetcars, Bombardier can bid competitively and keep its 800 to 1,200 high-paying, family-sustaining jobs in Thunder Bay. That is a good part of this deal that is missing from other trade deals.
The Korea free trade agreement would not apply to or negatively affect supply-managed agriculture products, something the NDP has always protected with the belief—and I know this belief is probably right through this place—that we cannot forget that farmers feed cities in this country and it is important that they be able to keep and work their farms and, hopefully, be able to retire with that income.
The Korea free trade agreement does not contain any negative intellectual property provisions. When I say that, I am thinking of pharmaceutical and copyright, for example. Michael Geist has pronounced positively on the intellectual property terms of the Korea free trade agreement, calling it a “model” agreement.
While the Korea free trade agreement does have investor state provision, it contains transparency guarantees, and we are fully able to cancel that on six months notice. More importantly, particularly for the east coast of Canada, shipbuilding is exempt from federal procurement rules. Therefore, there are some differences, and those differences highlight why New Democrats can support this deal and have perhaps not supported other deals that the government has sought to make.
A question came up earlier in the debate, so I will say a few words about investor state dispute settlements. Quite frankly, an NDP government would not have included investor state dispute settlements in the Korea free trade agreement. Just as a side note, the investor state dispute settlement mechanism in this free trade agreement is also opposed by Korea's main opposition party. An NDP government would negotiate with South Korea to have it dropped. I heard the government say earlier that this is a mechanism that is in all modern free trade agreements. I am not entirely sure that it needs to be; so it needs to be looked at a little more closely.
One would think, as I am speaking, that everything is rosy between the government and the official opposition on this particular bill, but the fact of the matter is that New Democrats proposed six amendments at committee and the government, true to form, dismissed them wholesale. It decided to dismiss these amendments out of hand without a proper discussion or looking at whether these amendments might improve the bill. That is true to form, along with just about everything else that has happened for the last three and a half years in committees. It is unfortunate that the government has always been so heavy handed in terms of amendments.
There are some things New Democrats would like the government to do after this bill passes. We want the government to make sure it supports our automotive industry. We support breaking down trade barriers, but we believe government should provide the support that Canadian industry needs to remain competitive in a more open world economy.
New Democrats also agree with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and others that the government needs to do more than sign trade agreements. It must do more to promote Canadian exports, attract investment, and help Canadian companies penetrate the South Korean and other Asian markets.
The New Democrats want a strategic trade policy where we restart multilateral negotiations and sign trade deals with developed countries that have high standards and with developing countries that are on progressive trajectories. These are countries like Japan, India, Brazil and South Africa.
The bottom line is that this is not the precise agreement that we would have negotiated. There are some problems, as I have outlined, but we will support this free trade agreement.
Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks on the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, I am sure I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that our hearts and prayers are with the family and friends of Corporal Nathan Cirillo in the final ceremonies honouring his life today.
I am very thankful to the RCMP, our security staff on the Hill and especially Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers for their great work last Wednesday. I am certain that in those first few moments last Wednesday, there were many thousands of prayers offered by Canadians. I want to thank God for his protection that the tragedy of last Wednesday was not much worse than it was.
I am pleased to rise today to speak about the historic Canada-Korea free trade agreement. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Willowdale.
It is only our Conservative government that is focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. By pursuing an ambitious trade agenda, our Conservative government has provided Canadian businesses with access to new opportunities in dynamic markets around the globe.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is a landmark achievement that will restore a level playing field for Canadian companies competing in the South Korean market. It is also Canada's first agreement with an Asian country. This is an important point to keep in mind.
As chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, I would like to focus some of my remarks on the environmental provisions contained in the agreement. I am proud of our government's action to protect our environment.
Both Canada and South Korea have committed to ensuring that trade does not come at the expense of the environment by negotiating robust and ambitious environmental obligations into the environment chapter in this free trade agreement.
While Canada has traditionally included strong, legally binding commitments to protect our environment in parallel environment agreements, we have in these negotiations moved those provisions within the free trade agreement itself. This is the same approach we pursued in the Canada-European Union trade agreement negotiations and reflects the importance that Canada places on ensuring that free and open trade and environmental protection are prominent and mutually supportive in our agreements.
Canada and South Korea have committed to promote sustainable development and to undertake their commitments in a manner that is consistent with environmental protection and conservation.
This environment chapter obliges both countries to maintain high levels of environmental protection, as we intensify our trade relationship. It commits us to effectively enforce our environmental laws and to ensure that we do not weaken them in order to encourage trade or investment.
In addition, we have agreed to obligations that address accountability and transparency, public awareness and engagement, all fundamental Canadian values.
This builds on a tradition of transparency and public engagement enshrined in all of our trade agreements beginning with our first environmental agreement, the North American Agreement On Environmental Cooperation.
We have a strong record of achievement in implementing our first and most comprehensive environment agreement with our North American partners. In fact, this year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the North American Agreement On Environmental Cooperation. The Minister of the Environment had the privilege of hosting her American and Mexican counterparts in Canada's north this past July.
In Yellowknife, our three countries agreed to focus on three priority areas for the organization's next strategic plan: climate change, green growth and sustainable communities and ecosystems.
The environmental chapter also requires that each party provide appropriate and effective sanctions or remedies in the case of domestic law violations. Ensuring that our citizens have access to strong and robust legal systems is a priority for this government. In this regard, our government has enhanced enforcement of federal environmental legislation through the Environmental Enforcement Act.
Once fully implemented, existing environmental laws will be further strengthened through the establishment of minimum fines and increasing maximum fines which will more accurately reflect the severity of environmental offences.
Recognizing the value of international co-operation in addressing environmental challenges, we are affirming our commitment to implement the multi-lateral environmental agreements that we have already ratified. This includes such agreements as the convention on biological diversity.
We also look forward to sharing Canada's achievements under the national conservation plan. Through this plan, Canada will invest $252 million over five years, with a focus on conserving our lands and waters, restoring our ecosystems, and connecting Canadians to nature.
The environment chapter of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement will also provide for potential future co-operation to support the objectives of the agreement. Both Canada and Korea recognize the value of sharing expertise and best practices to help advance our shared commitment to sustainable development and environmental responsibility.
Distinct dispute resolution mechanisms are also included in this chapter to ensure that the obligations are respected. If a matter comes up, we would seek to resolve it through consultations and co-operation, including at the ministerial level. If the issue remains unresolved, we would seek advice from a panel of experts and work together to implement the panel's recommendations.
Beyond the environmental chapter, the free trade agreement itself includes important trade-related environment provisions. These include provisions stipulating that nothing in this agreement shall prevent Canada and South Korea from taking measures necessary to protect the environment.
The agreement also includes commitments for both governments to encourage their respective enterprises operating abroad to observe internationally recognized standards of responsible business conduct, including respect to environment.
We stand with Canadians incredibly disappointed that the NDP tried to completely gut the bill at the trade committee. It tabled amendments to remove the investor protection provisions that are cornerstones of modern trade and investment agreements.
This is just as harmful as the neglect of international trade under the Liberals. For 13 long years, they took Canada out of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets.
Canada and South Korea have demonstrated through this agreement our commitment to protecting the environment. From Canada's perspective, it is a commitment that we see reflected across our agenda. For example, Canada is taking action on climate change both domestically and internationally. On the international stage, we continue to work with our international partners to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to address climate change globally.
Canada continues to play an active role in the United Nations framework convention on climate change and is fully committed to establishing a fair and effective climate change agreement that includes all major emitters.
We are also a founding partner and a major financial contributor, as well as an active participant, in the climate change and clean air coalition to marshal global efforts to tackle short-lived climate pollutants. This is in addition to action we are taking domestically through a strategic and pragmatic sector-by-sector regulatory approach.
We have already taken action on some of the largest sources of emissions in our country, the transportation and electricity generation sectors. As we announced last week at the United Nations climate change summit, we will build on our record by taking pre-emptive action to reduce and limit harmful hydrofluorocarbon, or HFC, emissions before they actually increase.
We are proud that Canada's economy has grown substantially, while our greenhouse gas emissions have decreased, with per capita emissions now at their lowest level since we started recording in 1990. We have demonstrated that we can protect the environment, while supporting a strong and robust economy.
Our government values high-quality economic growth and is committed to sustainable development as we continue to cultivate new opportunities for Canadian businesses abroad. We believe that trade and environment can go hand-in-hand, and this agreement proves it.
No government in Canada's history has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers and their families.
The farmers, food processors and manufacturers of Waterloo region are supportive of this agreement and are excited that they will reap the fruits of our labours.
On this side of the House, we recognize that Canadian business can compete and excel around the world, given a level playing field. I do not understand why the opposition seems to be against our attempts to put Canadians on equal footing with our international competitors.
I call for the speedy implementation of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
Mr. Chungsen Leung (Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House to speak on the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
At the onset, I should indicate that prior to entering politics, I had an opportunity to do a significant amount of business in South Korea. As a matter of fact, one of the subway systems that is used in a suburb of Seoul is a system that I introduced to them back in the mid-1980s.
However, what I would like to address today is the broader implications of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement being the first of our many agreements, hopefully, in the Asia-Pacific region.
Our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians. The creation of jobs and economic growth for the benefit of Canadian businesses, workers, and their families continues to be our focus. That is why we will continue to deliver pro-export leadership.
I would like to highlight the Canada-Korea free trade agreement in the broader context of Canada's foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region.
This dynamic region accounts for half of the world's population and is expected to contain two-thirds of the world's middle class by 2030. By that point, it is further estimated that the region would account for one-half of global GDP. Canada and our competitors recognize the significant potential Asia-Pacific has to offer, in terms of productivity, investment and innovation.
In the last Speech from the Throne, we committed to expanding trade in the Asia-Pacific region to benefit hard-working Canadians and businesses, especially, our crucial small and medium-size enterprises and industries across the country.
In addition to the Canada-Korea free trade agreement that we are discussing today, Canada continues to pursue agreements with other Asia-Pacific nations. Earlier this month, we ratified a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with China. We are also participating in the trans-Pacific partnership negotiations with 11 other countries in the region, and are negotiating an economic partnership agreement with Japan.
The tremendous economic momentum and potential of the Asia-Pacific has been accompanied by political and demographic shifts across the region. Amid this transformation, Canada has made our relations with Asia-Pacific a top foreign policy priority in order to contribute to regional and global security and prosperity.
In August, the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced additional Canadian funding in the amount of $14 million to help address security issues of shared concern in Southeast Asia. The projects include those to mitigate biological and nuclear threats; disrupt illicit flows, while protecting legitimate trade; combat human smuggling activities; improve regional cybersecurity tools; and work with our Association of Southeast Asian Nations partners to prevent and respond to terrorism.
For example, we are helping states by providing training and equipment, and technical and legal assistance to address the foreign fighter phenomenon and radicalization. Canada committed $2.3 million to support efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to identify and detect foreign fighters, individuals who are returning to their countries from abroad having been further radicalized and with the training and experience to undertake terrorist activities at home.
Canada also provides bilateral development assistance to countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and the Philippines, as well as other countries across Southeast Asia.
Furthermore, Canada provides development assistance through multilateral and global programs in Asia, as well as through partnerships between Canadian organizations and counterparts in Asia. In the fiscal year 2012-13, Canada provided approximately $1 billion in official development assistance to countries in Asia.
As an example, in September, our government announced funding for World Vision Canada and the Canadian Red Cross to support projects that are improving the health and well-being of vulnerable people in Afghanistan, as well as strengthening community resilience to natural disasters in Southeast Asia. Stability and security are vital to the prosperity of the region and that of Canada. We have a stake in attaining these objectives and we have made important contributions to supporting them in the Asia-Pacific region.
South Korea has witnessed rapid development, democratic evolution, and growing regional and international interests. It joined the United Nations in 1991 and in 2010 it was accepted into the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
These milestones have facilitated and enhanced co-operation between Canada and Korea in a number of political and security dimensions such as arms control, disarmament, peacekeeping and development assistance. Canada and Korea are both active in multilateral fora and partners in promoting global peace and security. Both countries also co-operate on security issues in other fora, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Additionally, we share important alliances with the United States and the Asia-Pacific and beyond. Canada supports efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in that region, and takes seriously the threat posed by North Korea to regional and indeed global security. We stand with South Korea in its efforts to ensure peace on the peninsula. North and South Korea technically remain at war as hostilities were concluded with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Canada remains gravely concerned about North Korea's provocative and destabilizing actions such as nuclear and missile tests and related proliferation, as well as its egregious human rights abuses. Canada strongly supports the six-party talks as a framework for credible negotiation on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Some of the great success stories of democratization in the last generation can be found in the Republic of Korea as well as Taiwan, Indonesia and Mongolia.
Canada now has more diplomatic staff in Asia than anywhere else in the world. Canada places great value on our relationships with the Asia-Pacific region and with Asian countries. We increased our presence on the ground with over 10 new offices in China and India since 2006. We will be establishing Canadian diplomatic presences in both Cambodia and Laos, and Canada is establishing a mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations headed by a new ambassador.
While in Burma in September, the Minister of Foreign Affairs opened Canada's newest diplomatic mission. Establishing a trade commissioner service in Burma is an integral component of the embassy as Canadian companies will have an important role to play in fostering sustainable economic growth while providing opportunities for Canada's private sector. No government in Canadian history has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers and their families. Deepening Canada's trading relations in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world is key to these efforts.
Canada's network of missions across Asia will help us to promote Canadian values: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. People in the region seek a bright future, including freedom and opportunity. Canada is ready to help them and to invite Canada's private sector to expand our engagement. Economic opportunity, in Canada and elsewhere, rests on free, transparent and open markets, the rule of law and democratic governance. As like-minded partners, Canada and Korea share a strong commitment to these values. Canadian foreign policy, including our trade policy, will not only promote peace and prosperity, but will contribute to the development of the wider Asia-Pacific region. In this context, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement is an important achievement that would advance our bilateral relations with Korea as well as Canada's broader objectives in this region.
We stand with Canadians incredibly disappointed that the New Democrats tried to completely gut the bill at the trade committee, where they made amendments to remove the investor protection provisions, cornerstones of modern trade and investment agreements. This is as harmful as the neglect of international trade under the Liberals who took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets.
Thanks to the leadership of our government, in less than seven years our government has reached free trade agreements with 38 countries, bringing Canada's total to 43 countries. By continuing to actively pursue broader market access to new investment opportunities, we are providing Canada's businesses and exporters with access on preferential terms to the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing economies and regions around the world.
Hon. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour for me to rise and speak today on the free trade agreement between Canada and South Korea.
This trade agreement has been a very long journey. It started under a Liberal government, but the Liberals had a record of not doing much about trade. During the Liberals' tenure, they just talked about it. After 10 years, they had only three free trade agreements.
There has been persistence by this government. The Prime Minister, the Minister of International Trade, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade have been consistent in trying to reach an agreement with South Korea.
As a matter of fact, at this stage I would like to acknowledge others who have also been working extremely hard to come to a fruitful conclusion for this free trade agreement. They include my colleague from Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, Senator Yonah Martin, and colleagues who have been going to South Korea as part of the South Korea-Canada association. Here I include myself: I have made four visits to Korea, the last one being a state visit with the Governor General. During this visit we again raised this issue.
All of these officials consistently put pressure that both sides should continue to negotiate, because this free trade agreement is of immense benefit to both countries. When the Prime Minister met with the President of South Korea at Bali at a conference, both of them agreed that the agreement should be concluded very quickly. When the President of South Korea visited Canada, we were able to say that the free trade negotiations begun in 2005 had finally reached a conclusion. That is what we are debating in Parliament today. It will be ratified as well by the South Korean parliament.
When we look at the history of North and South Korea, we see that there has been tremendous advancement made by the people of South Korea in building their economy, which is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world today. It is a tribute to the people of South Korea. We are very grateful that Canada has over 200,000 people from South Korea living in this country and contributing to our prosperity.
In Canada, everyone knows about the Kia cars and the televisions being built in Korea. Korea's high technology is a tribute to that great country. It is natural for Canada, a country with a small population and vast natural resources, to look for markets overseas to continue to build on our prosperity by building free trade agreements bilaterally with other countries. I am pleased to say that since 2006, when this government came into power, as has been mentioned many times, we have signed 36 agreements. Before that, the Conservative government signed two more, bringing the total under the Conservative government to 38 free trade agreements around the world.
Let us just imagine the business that free trade agreements open up in the market for Canadian goods around the world. We have full confidence in Canadian businesses. We are one of the best in mining, engineering, and agriculture. We have a vast variety of businesses and products and we need markets where we can grow.
The NAFTA agreement we reached with the U.S.A. and Mexico is a clear example of why a free trade agreement is very beneficial. It has benefited all three countries. To say that a free trade agreement benefits one country over another is wrong. New Democrats have said at times that we are giving ground to other countries; we are not. What we are doing is opening markets for us as well as for them. It is mutually beneficial. That is why South Korea is now one of the strongest economies in Asia, and that is why Canada is also a strong economy. Let us not kid about it: Canada is one of the strongest economies in the world and is able to share with others.
Businesses need this market, and the market is growing. The Liberal critic talked about TPP. Indeed, we have TPP negotiations going on, and they are very extensive. These negotiations are going on. We see that the WTO talks have collapsed, but the problem is that we cannot wait for a global situation on a free trade agreement. Therefore, this government took upon itself a very robust agenda of free trade and went out, as I mentioned, to 36 countries. Imagine the market we have opened up for our Canadian businesses to take advantage of.
Of course, because we have the experience that comes with signing so many agreements, we know exactly how an agreement will impact the economy. We have taken into account every sector of the economy. We have talked to the provinces. We have talked to businesses. We have their input, and we have come up with a game plan or template on how free trade agreements should be done.
We are currently in negotiations with India on this same template, but we have also successfully done negotiations with the European Union. If we think about the markets of the European Union and NAFTA, we see that Canadian businesses are poised to take advantage.
From the other perspective, opportunities are opened up for Canadians to go overseas to work and gain experience and become first class in their businesses. That is happening around the world. Canada is welcomed anywhere in the world. We have a very robust corporate social responsibility. We hold Canadian companies to a high standard, and that is why we are welcomed wherever we go. They want Canadian expertise. In this situation, it works best to have a free trade agreement.
This agreement would be beneficial both for Korea and for Canada. There is no downsizing to this thing, contrary to what New Democrats will say, because experience has shown to us, as in NAFTA, that this is not a downsizing but an important and beneficial thing for Canada.
Koreans have already signed free trade agreements with the U.S. and with the European Union, so these countries are far ahead of us. Because of that, we started losing ground in South Korea. Our exports have fallen, and if we do not sign this agreement, how will we catch up? It had become an unlevel playing field, and the Europeans and Americans were far ahead of us. Now we are catching up, and we should be there.
That is why it is important for the other side to understand that we live in a global world. Other people are signing free trade agreements, as I just mentioned. The European Union, the U.S., and other countries are in TPP negotiations. We are in negotiations with Japan, with India, and with other countries, but at the end of the day, other countries are doing the same thing. If we are not up in the forefront in doing those things, we will lose ground, and we, with the smaller population, will suffer the financial consequences if we lose ground.
Let me expand on how provinces will benefit from this agreement. We have a vast country, from British Columbia all the way to P.E.I., and every region has its own strength in natural resources, which it can leverage on the world market. There is agriculture and potash; in the north there are diamonds, forestry, oil; and potatoes in P.E.I. We need this vast country, as I have stated, to move out and do it.
The Canadian trade delegation, led by the Minister of International Trade and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, is robust. I just came back from my visit to India, where the premier of British Columbia brought in a strong trade delegation to build up markets with India. I accompanied the Governor General to Brazil, which is an emerging market. It is a market where we can sell and expand our trade with Latin America. I was with the Governor General in Southeast Asia looking for markets to expand in.
All countries are doing the same thing. There is a global competition. It is not as if Canada is doing something different from others. There is a global competition to enter into other markets. Our good friends in Australia have successfully concluded a free trade agreement with Korea. They are good friends, but they are now our competition. They are there ahead of us. If we do not do these things, then we will lose ground. That is why I find it quite strange that New Democrats use any kind of excuse to say they do not want a free trade agreement and they feel we must live within our boundaries. They have never approved any free trade agreement. I have been here for a long time.
New Democrats need to understand that Canada is a trading nation. We market goods; we sell goods to markets. Think of the market in the U.S. that has over 300 million people, the market in the European Union that has 600 million people, the market in India that has 1.2 billion people, or the market in China that has 1 billion people. Canadian companies are robustly present in all of these areas. We have a global presence.
Canada is recognized around the world. As I travel, I see that we have a global presence. We have a global presence because, as I have stated, we have a great reputation, but we are also traders. When we trade around the world, we do it fairly and we have a good corporate socially responsible system here, contrary to what the NDP says. I will not mention the Liberals because with them there is only talk on trade and no action.
I am delighted to say that I have been to Korea and it is a country that I thoroughly admire, as well as the people. This free trade agreement would be of benefit not only to the world but Canada and everyone else, and I ask my colleagues on the other side to support this great agreement.
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to speak in this House on behalf of my constituents from Surrey North.
I know that many of my constituents are very happy about this particular trade agreement. I have talked to a number of small businesses that already do some business in South Korea, and they will be delighted to finally see, after many years of negotiation, and to some degree neglect by the government, the conclusion of this agreement.
It is not perfect, but this is something that will definitely benefit not only the people in my constituency but people across this country, because we are a trading nation.
Before I get to that, I had the opportunity, along with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights to visit South Korea with the Governor General. At that point, the talks were sort of stalled because of a lack of resources provided by the Conservative government to negotiate this particular trade agreement. The government's priorities were somewhere else, as I spoke about earlier. The government's priorities were countries that have shady records and should be a low priority, for a number of a reasons.
The delegation encouraged speeding up those negotiations. I am very proud that I was part of that delegation encouraging the Korean government to come to the table to negotiate a trade agreement that is going to benefit both countries, Canada and Korea. Both countries will benefit from trade.
Canada is a trading nation. We on this side of the House know that. We have been encouraging the government to negotiate trade agreements that are fair to Canadians. We are not going to get it 100% right, but overall, the majority of the trade agreement will be beneficial to Canadians and Koreans.
The NDP has always encouraged governments to negotiate trade agreements that are fair and that will benefit Canadians. I sat on the international trade committee. I have talked about what criteria we need to use to look at which countries we should be negotiating with and what sorts of things we should be negotiating to expand the markets our exporters need.
In this House we have heard that there are jobs related to our exports. It is critical that we negotiate trade agreements to benefit people across this country.
The Conservative government talks about having a template. I doubt that it has a template. The only template it has is to make sure that it negotiates trade agreements with 50 countries or 40 countries. It just looks at numbers. The government's priorities are not consistent.
I am going to talk about the criteria the NDP government in 2015 would look at in negotiating trade agreements. We will ensure that markets open up for all Canadians right across the country.
Here is some of the framework we should be looking at. There are three important criteria I will talk about in detail.
First, is the proposed partner one that respects democracy, human rights, adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values? If there are challenges with these, is the partner on a positive trajectory towards these goals?
Second, is the proposed partner's economy of significant or strategic value to Canada?
The third criteria makes common sense. The Conservatives do not always talk common sense, but New Democrats do. Are the terms of the proposed agreement satisfactory and of benefit to Canadians? Would it create good-paying local jobs here in Canada. Would it create secondary industry jobs and value-added jobs?
Value-added jobs pay higher wages. Shipping our raw materials overseas does not create a lot of jobs. Creating value-added jobs in this country is what we on this side of the House, in the official opposition, have always advocated.
We should be adding secondary jobs. The Conservative government's record with regard to trade and the creation of secondary jobs is horrible. I would like to talk about that before I get into the details of the three criteria.
Canada had a trade surplus when the Conservatives took office in 2006. That trade surplus has now turned into a huge trade deficit. That is not a good record for the government. The Conservatives say they are stewards of the economy and have negotiated many trade agreements. However, they have failed to look at these agreements to see if they have been positive or to make adjustments for future trade agreements. The government continually fails to do its research with regard to trade agreements.
I talked about negotiating trade agreements that will add value to the goods we produce in Canada and ship overseas.
The government has gutted manufacturing here in Canada over the last few years. Hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs have disappeared under the Conservative government. When I talk about the government's erratic policies when it comes to negotiating trade agreements, we can relate that to what has happened in our manufacturing industry.
Conservatives' do not have a coordinated policy plan when it comes to negotiating agreements with our strategic partners.
I will talk to the House in detail about the criteria I just mentioned.
First, is the proposed partner one that respects democracy, human rights, adequate environment and labour standards, and Canadian values? I had a chance to go with the Governor General to South Korea. After the dictatorship in 1987, South Korea transitioned into a vibrant, multi-party democracy with an active trade union movement and relatively high wages. South Koreans have a high standard of living and freedom of expression.
South Korea has emerged as a tiger in South Asia. It is the fourth-largest economy in South Asia and the 15th-largest economy in the emerging developed countries. South Korea has one of the highest post-secondary education rates of all OECD countries.
In recent years, South Korea has invested billions of dollars in an ambitious green growth strategy aimed at improving energy efficiency and boosting renewable and green technology. This is something my friends across the aisle could learn from South Korea. It has invested in green energy and green projects. It is looking at 20 years from now. In the last decade, this Conservative government has been looking back.
The parliamentary secretary was right. The members of the third party talk about negotiating trade agreements, but they actually just talk. They do not negotiate any trade agreements. Over the years, we have seen them dragging their feet with respect to making good agreements that make sense for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
On the first criterion, it is clear that South Korea is a country that respects environmental and labour law standards. It shares Canadian values on human rights and democracy.
On the environmental front, Korea has emerged as a leader in renewable energy and green technology. Canada can increase its trade in these important sectors.
The second criterion is that the proposed partners be of strategic value to Canada.
Coming from Surrey, British Columbia, and living on the west coast, I know how important the South Asia economies are to British Columbia, because all of our goods flow out of the ports in Vancouver or Prince Rupert. We have been doing quite a bit of trade with Korea. Not only that, some of the ports on the west coast are located strategically. Goods shipped from Korea may be going to Ontario or the midwestern United States. The ports are actually able to cut down the time it takes the goods from Korea to get to Ontario or the central United States. We are strategically located, and we have been encouraging the government to negotiate good, fair trade agreements based on that criterion.
Japan is another country we have been negotiating with for many years. However, we have not yet seen a successful conclusion. There has not been that concrete push from the Canadian government to ensure that a fair trade agreement can be concluded with Japan. Japan is another strategic trading partner for Canada.
There is already a large amount of trade between Korea and Canada. We started these negotiations with Korea back in 2003. It has taken up to now, close to 11 years, to successfully negotiate a trade agreement. Although sometimes it may take a long time, I agree that we should ensure that the trade deals we are negotiating are fair to our country.
This is where I wonder what the government's priorities are. The European Union started negotiating with Korea after we started negotiating. The United States started negotiating with Korea after we started negotiating the trade agreement. The current government has been busy negotiating with some countries that have very shady records, and I have spoken about that in the House. The European Union and the U.S. not only started negotiations after we did but concluded their free trade agreement before we did. That tells me that their governments are putting more effort into ensuring that they lock in their strategic markets. We are negotiating trade agreements with strategic partners, yet the government has failed to see how important South Korea is.
I have talked with farmers from Alberta and Saskatchewan. I have sat on the trade committee. The cattle and hog farmers have told the trade committee that we are losing the market for their goods in South Korea due to the negligence of the government. That has eroded some of the markets our competitors have access to and we do not.
We will catch up. However, jobs have been lost because of the government's inability to negotiate these trade agreements with these strategic partners in a timely fashion before our competitors, such as the European Union, the United States, and Australia, have.
Australia is another country that is heavily invested into Asia. It is negotiating trade agreements and finding markets in Asia. A lot of the goods it sells to these markets are similar to what we have to offer to those very nations. I would advise the government to put its resources where strategically Canada can benefit from these fair trade agreements that will lead to local jobs and prosperity right across the country.
Another one of the factors of the second criterion I talked about is that Korea is also part of the Asian global supply chain and a gateway market to the economies of other countries in Asia. Korean and Canadian economies are largely complementary, meaning most Canadian industries do not compete directly with Korean industries. I am talking about most in generalities.
There is a number of manufacturing industries that would benefit from this agreement, and there is a cross-section of those. There are the aerospace industry, the chemical industry, the Canadian Apparel Federation and Bombardier. The heavy industry, such as Aluminum Association of Canada and the Mining Association of Canada, would benefit. Another area that would benefit would be the wood products. Agricultural goods, food processing, seafood and high-tech information technologies are some of the industries that would benefit as well.
There is a concern from the auto industry in regard to being unable to benefit from this agreement. We have asked the Conservatives how they will respond to the concerns of the auto industry, yet we have no response from them. We have seen the agreements the United States negotiated. It had won some concessions from the Korean government to protect parts of its auto industry. Again, the Conservative government has not provided any answers as to how it will mitigate the very real concern from auto workers in Ontario.
The third criterion is this. Are the terms of the proposed deal satisfactory? Most Canadians and virtually all industry associations support the deal, and these include, as I pointed out, many of the industries. The agreement would create a level playing field for Canadian companies and Canadian auto workers exporting to South Korea.
I have a lot to talk about, but I will try to sum this up.
One of the other areas of concern to us, as always, is the investor state dispute resolution. We have a very good judicial system in our country and South Korea has a fairly good one. The rule of law governs and the rules are applied the same to all companies. However, the investor dispute resolution settlement would provide an alternative kind of settlement. Sometimes that is not very open and sometimes it ties the hands of governments to protect local industry, or ties the hands of local city governments as to whether they can create local jobs or hire local people or buy local products. That is of concern to us.
The good thing about the investor state dispute settlement is that it could be cancelled with a notice of six years, whereas the FIPA the Conservative government has signed with China ties the hands of future governments for 31 years. That is the sort of irresponsible action the government has taken in regard to that agreement.
As we pointed out earlier, the Korean opposition parties did not want the investor state provisions in the agreement. The NDP is on record saying that we will look at opening it up and renegotiating this part of the agreement.
Overall, it is a good deal, one that we have always advocated. We are a trading nation. We will continue to negotiate free trade agreements that support Canadian jobs, local economies and local industry to provide prosperity across the country.
Mr. Devinder Shory (Calgary Northeast, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Prince Albert.
I am pleased to rise today to speak about the historic Canada-Korea free trade agreement and how this agreement supports the government's broader pro-trade plan. It is only our Conservative government that is focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
By pursuing an ambitious trade agenda, our Conservative government has provided Canadian businesses with access to new opportunities in dynamic markets around the globe. As an export-driven economy, Canada needs free trade agreements. Trade accounts for one out of every five jobs in Canada and is equivalent, in dollar terms, to over 60% of our country's annual income. Despite all the evidence that modern trade agreements create jobs, economic growth and economic security for hard-working Canadian families, the NDP tried to completely sabotage the Canada-Korea free trade agreement at committee. They would have forced our government to completely renegotiate the agreement and set Canadians back even further.
This anti-trade behaviour is just as bad for Canadians who depend on trade for their jobs as the Liberals' record on trade. During 13 long years in the government, the Liberals completely neglected trade, completing only three free trade agreements. The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets. Their trade critic does not even sit on the committee.
Our government recognizes that Canadian companies are at risk of being at a competitive disadvantage in key markets, as their major foreign competitors, such as the U.S. and the EU, are benefiting from preferential access under existing FTAs. That is why Canada is pursuing its most ambitious trade negotiations agenda in Canadian history.
Eight years ago, Canada had just five trade agreements, but since 2006, Canada has successfully reached free trade agreements with 38 countries, namely, Colombia, the European Free Trade Association, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru, all 28 members of the European Union, and now South Korea. In addition, Canada has 28 foreign investment promotion and protection agreements in force, 13 additional concluded FIPAs. These bilateral agreements establish a strong rules-based framework for increased investment by protecting and promoting foreign investment through legally binding rights and obligations.
Focusing on sectors and markets that offer the greatest opportunities for growth is a priority under Canada's new global markets action plan, called GMAP.
Let me now turn to the historic Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
South Korea is identified as a priority market in the GMAP and the CKFTA represents an important step in increasing access to this fast-growing economy. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is a landmark achievement that would restore a level playing field for Canadian companies competing in South Korean markets. Stronger economic ties with South Korea would create new jobs and opportunities and contribute to Canada's long-term economic growth and prosperity.
Critically, with this agreement, Canadian companies will become increasingly competitive in the region. With half of the world's population living a five-hour flight away from Seoul, South Korea offers strategic access to regional and global value chains. As a result of improved market access for goods, services and investments under the agreement, Canadian companies can use South Korea as a strategic base for growing their businesses throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The positive momentum of an agreement with South Korea is and will continue to carry Canada forward in this vibrant region, but creating new opportunities for Canadians in the Asia-Pacific region does not stop there.
Just a few weeks ago, the Minister of International Trade led his third trade mission to India, along with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Revenue. India is a country where we continue to see many opportunities for Canadian businesses.
We have also seen a great deal of interest in India from a number of my colleagues, including the Minister of Agriculture and the President of the Treasury Board in September, as well as the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in July.
Canada and India have long-standing bilateral relations, close people-to-people ties and shared goals of free trade, open markets, democracy and good governance for more growth and prosperity. In fact, India is a priority market under Canada's global markets action plan. Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and India totalled $5.8 billion in 2013, a 10.7% increase from 2012, and has more than doubled over the last 10 years.
Strengthening the Canada-India partnership is one of our Conservative Government's top trade priorities. We believe that an exciting future awaits both our countries, a future based on deeper trade and investment ties. Opportunities are particularly strong in the fields of energy, agriculture and agri-food, infrastructure, and education.
Through our ambitious pro-trade and pro-export global markets action plan, Canadian businesses have the tools to grow, export and build on their success at home and abroad. These tools include trade missions such as the one the Minister of International Trade recently led to India, free trade agreements, foreign investment promotion and protection agreements, together with the support of the on-the-ground Canadian trade commissioners service, Export Development Canada, the Canadian Commercial Corporation and the Business Development Bank of Canada.
Canada has eight Canadian trade commissioner offices and five EDC representatives in India, reflecting the importance both countries place on increasing bilateral trade and investment. Canada's trade network in India is now our third largest globally, after China and the United States, and is also the second-largest foreign network in India, after the U.S.
Export Development Canada is a strong investor in Canadian companies seeking opportunities in India. Five EDC officers are on the ground in the country. To date, EDC has supported 299 Canadian companies with contract volumes of $1.86 billion.
While the Liberals led trade missions purely for photo-ops for politicians, our approach is to lead trade missions to actually help our businesses. The Minister of International Trade led his most recent trade mission to India to interact with Indian businesses and government representatives and to see first-hand the opportunities that exist to boost Canadian exports.
Participants in these trade missions have told us that high-level trade missions are valuable in opening doors and identifying opportunities. By helping Canadian businesses expand and succeed abroad, we are also helping to create jobs, growth and prosperity at home. Canada's competitive edge and combined access to these markets will lead directly to jobs and opportunities in every region of Canada.
Whether we are exporting meat, grain, fish, wood products or industrial goods, the more markets we have access to, the more jobs are created for hard-working Canadians and their families. Canada's long-term economic prosperity is directly linked to market access and other economic opportunities beyond Canadian borders.
Our government understands the importance of trade and exports to our economy. Exports are responsible for one out of every five Canadian jobs. The prosperity of Canadians depends on the continued expansion beyond our borders into new markets that serve to grow Canada's exports and investments. The CKFTA represents one of these key economic opportunities and is a watershed moment in our historical relationship with South Korea.
For this and other reasons, stakeholders from across the country have called for the agreement's entry into force as soon as possible. That is why our government is moving to pass the bill quickly and will not be stopped by opposition stonewalling.
I look forward to the support of the opposition on the bill.
Mr. Randy Hoback (Prince Albert, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank my colleague from Calgary Northeast and acknowledge the hard work he has done in committee and the respect he has shown for the committee, attending the meetings, being there, asking the great questions, and making sure we have the best piece of legislation we could possibly have for our Canadian businesses and families.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is an ambitious, state of the art agreement, covering virtually all sectors and aspects of Canadian-Korean trade. South Korea is an important export destination for Canada and the Prairies, with exports from the Prairies to South Korea worth an average of $934 million annually from 2011 to 2013.
I would like to highlight some of the key benefits in the agreement, starting with Alberta. South Korea is a very important market for Alberta. It is the province's fifth-largest export destination, with exports from 2011 to 2013 worth an annual average of approximately $635 million. From 2011 to 2013, Alberta's agricultural exports to South Korea were worth an annual average of $195 million, with wheat, pork, canola, unroasted malt barley, and tallow as the main exports.
South Korean tariffs would be eliminated on all of these items. For wheat, the current rate is 3%. On pork, the current rate is 30%. Unroasted malt barley is at a current rate as high as 269%.
Alberta would also benefit from the elimination of tariffs on beef, which is one of the biggest export interests for Alberta in the South Korean markets. Exports to South Korea of fresh chilled and frozen beef, which totalled over $43 million in 2002 prior to the BSE outbreak, are in a rebuilding phase following the restoration of the access to the South Korean market in 2012. Canada's exports of beef to South Korea reached an average of $5.5 million from 2011 to 2013. Separately, exports of bovine genetics, offal, and tallow averaged over $15 million.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement would eliminate its high beef tariffs and allow Canadian exports to compete head to head with their U.S. competition. Specifically, the 40% tariff on fresh and chilled frozen beef cuts, as well as the 72% tariff on some of the processed and prepared beef, would be eliminated within 15 years. Tariffs of 18% on most beef offal would be eliminated within 11 years, while tariffs on beef fats and tallow would be eliminated upon entry into force of the agreement. Importantly, the 18% tariff on bovine embryos would also be eliminated upon entry into force.
The services sector is another key economic driver in Alberta, and it is expected to benefit greatly from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. In 2012, the services sector accounted for 53% of Alberta's total GDP and employed more than 1.5 million Albertans. Canada's service exports to South Korea are worth more than $750 million a year. Many areas of export interest in Alberta in the services sector would benefit from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, including architecture, construction, financial, and telecommunications services, to name just a few.
The agreement would also increase the transparency and predictability of South Korea's markets by ensuring that the regulators act impartially, objectively, and in a transparent manner.
Now, I would like to turn to Saskatchewan, my home province. It is the home of the Roughriders, and it is the emerging powerhouse in Canada. Its exports to South Korea in 2011 to 2013 were worth an average of $175 million. This agreement would bring significant benefits to Saskatchewan across sectors including agriculture, agri-food products, the industrial goods sector, and the services sector.
Canola and malt are Saskatchewan's key exports to South Korea. From 2011 to 2013, Saskatchewan exports of barley malt, canola, and canola oil to South Korea averaged $23 million a year. Once the Canada-Korea free trade agreement comes into force, canola and malt producers would benefit greatly from the elimination of duties on these products, which currently face duties of up to 10% and 269%, respectively.
Listen to what the president of the Canola Council of Canada said about the agreement's expected benefits to Saskatchewan's canola industry:
|| South Korea is an important market for canola, with annual sales ranging from $60 million to $90 million in recent years. Under the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, we could significantly increase—even double—our exports to this market.
Saskatchewan would also benefit from the tariff elimination on industrial goods. From 2011 to 2013, Saskatchewan exports of industrial goods to South Korea were worth an average of $42 million. Exporters of industrial goods such as weighing machinery, scales, electrical transformers, and sporting equipment, which currently face an 8% tariff, would now enjoy preferential access to the diverse Korean market.
I look forward to Saskatchewan's increased prosperity through the benefits of this agreement.
Finally, I turn to Manitoba, located at the heart of Canada. South Korea is also an important trade destination for Manitoba, with exports from 2011 to 2013 worth an average of $124 million.
At the centre of Canada's grain trade is Manitoba's innovative agriculture and agri-food sector. From 2011 to 2013, Manitoba's agriculture exports to South Korea were worth an average of $92 million, with wheat and pork at the lead. This free trade agreement would eliminate many agriculture tariffs immediately upon implementation of the agreement, and would eliminate all tariffs, in whole or in part, on 97% of current agricultural exports when the agreement is fully implemented.
Tariffs would be eliminated on agriculture exports such as wheat, from the current rate of 3%, and pork and most processed pork products, from a current rate of up to 30%. This is important to allow Manitoba producers of wheat, pork, and other products to compete with the other agricultural and agri-food exporters in South Korea, including the United States and the European Union.
In 2010, before the implementation of the South Korea free trade agreement with the U.S. and the EU, Canada's share of Korea's fresh chilled and frozen pork imports was 14.2%. However, in 2013, after the implementation of these agreements, it dropped to below 9%. This represents a loss in export value of $22 million. We must act now to level the playing field for our pork industry.
Regarding Manitoba's services sector, it accounted for 71% of the province's GDP in 2012. It is by far the largest sector of Manitoba's economy and generates more than 75% of the province's total employment. Key export interests in this sector are business and professional services, construction, engineering and architectural services, and marketing and distribution services.
Some of the benefits of the agreement for the services sector include enhanced access to the South Korean market for service providers, which go beyond South Korea's current obligations. Notably, nothing in the agreement would prevent our government from regulating in the public interest. For example, public services such as health, public education, and other social services would be excluded from the obligations of the agreement, and our government remains free to enact the policies and programs it chooses.
We stand with Canadians, incredibly disappointed that the NDP tried to completely gut the bill at the trade committee, where it tabled amendments to remove the investor protection provisions, cornerstones of modern trade and investment agreements. This is just as harmful as the neglect of international trade under the Liberals, who took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets. Only our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians.
I call for the urgent ratification of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, so that we can begin to reap the benefits of this landmark agreement as soon as possible.
Mr. Marc-André Morin (Laurentides—Labelle, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
Although it seems almost as difficult to agree with the government as to disagree with it, I am still pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea.
As I mentioned in my speech at second reading, I am proud to support the implementation of this agreement because it is very important for our agricultural producers and our exporters.
The discussions regarding a free trade agreement between Canada and South Korea began in 2004, and negotiations officially began in 2009. It took nine years to conclude the treaty.
During that time, Korea signed agreements with the United States and Australia. Canada's delay cost our producers and exporters dearly. Canada has been losing significant market share. We need to step up our efforts in order to recover those losses. Canada's delay in signing an agreement with Korea shows just how important it is to have an international trade strategy. Signing agreements right and left without a coherent plan is certainly not in the best interests of Canadians.
What is more, in its haste to pass this agreement as quickly as possible, the Standing Committee on International Trade conducted a rapid study. We had a limited number of study sessions, and we were only able to hear from a limited number of witnesses.
The NDP meticulously studies free trade agreements that are presented to us. We know that once they are ratified, it is difficult, if not impossible, to turn back the clock and fix any errors. We apply three criteria in our assessment. First, is the proposed partner one that respects democracy, human rights, adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values? If there are any issues, is the partner on the path to meeting those objectives? Second, is the proposed partner's economy of strategic value to Canada? Third, are the terms of the proposed deal satisfactory?
The agreement with Korea meets those three basic criteria. Korea is an established democracy that enforces high labour, human rights and environmental protection standards. It is a developed country that is ranked 15th on the human development index, the highest ranking of all East Asian countries. In addition to introducing social programs and the rule of law, South Korea has low levels of corruption and provides high access to quality education. With respect to the environment, Korea has emerged as a world leader in renewable energy and green technology.
Furthermore, the agreement with Korea represents a significant and strategic value to Canada. This agreement is viewed positively by a plurality of Canadians and is supported by virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy. South Korea is Canada's seventh most important trading partner.
Even more importantly, this agreement would be Canada's first trade agreement with an Asian country, so it provides a significant opportunity to capitalize on the Pacific region economies and to diversify our export markets.
The agreement with South Korea also passes the test if we look at the terms of the agreement. A very broad coalition of Canadian economic stakeholders believe that this agreement will have a positive impact. I must note, however, that certain terms of the agreement are not what an NDP government would have negotiated.
The manipulation of Korean currency as a form of protectionism as well as the investor state dispute settlement mechanism are two aspects that keep coming up in the discussions. Despite the NDP's demands, no real study has been conducted to examine how these aspects will affect Canadians.
We proposed amendments to improve the agreement at the Standing Committee on International Trade. In total, the NDP proposed six amendments. These amendments aimed to protect the right of Canadian governments to legislate in the public interest and to prohibit the weakening of environmental standards.
Furthermore, two of these amendments directly addressed the auto and steel industries. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals proposed any amendments to improve this agreement. Obviously, as usual, the Conservatives voted against all of our attempts to improve this agreement. It is sad that members choose to do this.
Nevertheless, we believe that, overall, the benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement outweigh the risks. For these reasons, I am pleased to support Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea. However, I believe that our work does not end here.
South Korea is a new market for our exporters. It would be magical thinking to believe that simply signing the agreement will automatically enable our exporters to take advantage of the Korean market. Many of our Canadian exporters, especially SMEs, need a little help to benefit from this opportunity. Co-operation among businesses, the Canadian embassy in South Korea, the Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Canada and other services is essential to implementing the agreement and improving trade.
In my riding, Laurentides—Labelle, the Oviva group, which produces maple water, contacted me for more information about opportunities available to them to get into that market. They do not know where to go for help from the government. Maple water is a niche product. The quality of their product is exceptional. I will personally make sure that these exporters from my region get all the help they need to access the Korean market.
In closing, I believe that this free trade agreement with Korea will create new opportunities for Canadian producers and exporters. I think it is a real shame that all of the amendments my party put forward to improve this agreement were rejected out of hand. I think that this agreement will be good for Canadians, so I support Bill C-41.
Ms. Isabelle Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to reiterate the NDP's support for the bill that is presented before the House today. We add our voices to those of a broad coalition of Canadian stakeholders, such as the agriculture and agri-food industry associations; the UFCW, which is Canada's largest private sector union; manufacturing industry associations; and Bombardier, just to name a few.
As we have declared before the House, the NDP keeps in mind three fundamental criteria to ensure that the interests of Canadians are protected when it comes to a trade agreement.
The first has to do with the proposed partner's attitude toward Canadian values. We will make sure that countries respect democracy and human rights and that they have high policies toward labour and environmental standards. In the case of South Korea, we are very satisfied by the work this country has achieved since it broke free from dictatorship a quarter of a century ago. It has transitioned into an energetic, multi-party democracy with an active trade union movement. The wages are beyond decent, and freedom of expression is encouraged. South Korea is a developed country and is ranked 15th on the human development index, which is the highest rank in east Asia. We also have to point out the success of South Korea in becoming a world leader in renewable energy and green technology.
Our second criterion is with respect to the economic benefits Canada can receive from the agreement. Is the proposed partner's economy of significant or strategic value to Canada? Again we are satisfied, considering that South Korea is Canada's seventh most important trading partner. In 2013, Canadian exports to South Korea totalled $7.3 billion. Also, this first agreement with an Asian country would allow Canada to enter the Pacific region and diversify its export markets. Canadian exporters lost 30% of their market share in South Korea after the European Union and the U.S.A. concluded similar trade agreements. This agreement would allow Canada to restore its competitiveness in global markets and compensate for the losses.
Bob Linton, from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, stated:
|| This deal will not only help to protect the jobs of our members in these provinces but has the potential to increase employment with good union paying jobs that benefit the communities.
The third criterion is with respect to the terms of the agreement. The NDP wants to make sure that such terms are satisfactory for the Canadian economy. In this present case, we are satisfied by the benefits provided in many sectors.
One example is the agricultural sector. The agreement would enhance trade in the agriculture and agri-food sector, which represents 8% of the country's economy and sustains one out of eight jobs. South Korea imports a colossal amount of these products and is therefore a complementary economical partner for Canada.
We can also point out the benefits provided by this agreement in the aerospace sector. I am really pleased with this agreement, considering the proximity of South Korea to other major economies, such as Japan and China. In the next 20 years, half of the world's air traffic will be driven by Asia. The demand for aircraft in Asia will account for 37% of worldwide sales and be valued at $1.9 trillion.
The NDP recognizes the virtue of free trade and is aware that deepening our trade linkages with the Asia-Pacific region is essential to maintaining Canadian prosperity in the 21st century. However, this is not exactly the agreement that we would have negotiated. Let us face it: some aspects of it need to be criticized.
Let us start with concerns regarding the automobile sector, which needs to be protected. The NDP is calling on the government to take action to support the Canadian automobile industry, which provides 100,000 good jobs. Even if we go outside the frame of this agreement, the Canadian automobile sector has to face ferocious world competition. In 2013, Canada could not attract any of the $1.7 billion in auto assembly investments that were made around the world. These are shocking facts. That is why the NDP is urging the government to provide financial help to this very important sector of our industry.
An NDP government would create policies that would fortify the sector, and we have many ideas on how to do so. We would encourage Korean automakers to set up production facilities in Canada. We would also assist our industry in penetrating Korean and other Asian markets, and we would definitely keep an eye on non-tariff barriers and hurry to resolve disputes in an efficient and adequate manner.
At committee stage, the NDP definitely took the lead by inviting several witnesses from different sectors, including those against the agreement. We were also the only party to propose amendments to protect Canada's automobile sector, which goes back to what I was mentioning a moment ago. One amendment proposed a snap-back in the event of a surge in Korean vehicle imports in the Canadian market. We also suggested implementing yearly trade missions to Korea to observe and control the removal of harmful non-tariff barriers on Canadian exports. However, the government refused both these amendments that would have protected our industry.
Obviously the Liberal Party is no help in addressing that issue, since it does not have a plan or even the beginning of a proposition to protect our industry. There is no surprise there, since the Liberals are willing to support an agreement without even knowing its details, as they did when the Liberal critic approved a trade agreement with the European Union without seeing it.
Still on the topic of what happened at committee stage, the NDP was the only party to step up to introduce Canadians' concerns. We made three motions regarding investor protections. The first one was to protect the right of the Canadian government to legislate in the public interest. The second motion was to prohibit the fading of environmental standards in order to encourage investments. Last but not least, we wanted to repeal the investor state dispute settlement chapter from the agreement. In that matter, the main opposition party in South Korea joined its voice to ours.
Despite the relevance of these interventions, both the Liberal and the Conservative parties rejected these amendments.
In conclusion, the NDP supports open trade, especially when it comes to breaking down harmful trade barriers and decreasing tariffs and protectionism. Nevertheless, past experience has shown that a completely hands-off approach to the economy just does not work. Therefore, I concur with the Chamber of Commerce of Canada that there is a common sense role for government to play in promoting our exports and helping Canadian companies get into the Asian market.
I want to reiterate to my community and to all Koreans in my riding and in the greater Montreal area, whom I often deal with, that I am very proud we can conclude this free trade agreement and that I will help them. Some production companies have already approached me for help in developing markets with Korea. I will do everything in my power to help them.
According to the criteria I listed, this is a good agreement. I would have liked us to study it a bit more in committee, but this is a step in the right direction for our country, and I am pleased to say so again today and support this bill.
Mr. Jacques Gourde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, for Official Languages and for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians.
It is with great pleasure that I rise today to talk about the Canada-Korea free trade agreement, a landmark agreement that will strengthen our trade and investment ties across the Pacific, increase the prosperity of both countries and result in job creation and enhanced opportunities for Canadian and Korean businesses, investors, workers and consumers
I would like to focus my remarks today on the benefits the Canada-Korea free trade agreement will bring to my home province of Quebec.
With Canadian agricultural exports to South Korea facing an average tariff rate of close to 53% over the 2011-13 period, Quebec businesses stand to gain considerably from the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. When fully implemented, the agreement will eliminate tariffs on over 99% of agricultural tariff lines. This duty-free access will not only give Quebec exporters preferential access to the South Korean market, but will also create a level playing field on which to compete and win.
Upon entry into force, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement will eliminate tariffs on almost all of Quebec’s key exports and provide access to new opportunities in the South Korean market. Quebec exporters will also benefit from non-tariff provisions that will improve conditions for exports in the diverse South Korean market. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement will, for example, ease regulatory barriers, reinforce intellectual property rights and ensure more transparent rules for market access.
I would now like to highlight some of the broad benefits for Quebec. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement will provide enhanced market access for key sectors of interest to Quebec, including industrial goods, agricultural and agri-food products, forestry products and professional services.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement will also provide predictable, non-discriminatory rules for our investors and ensures that their investments will be protected in the South Korean market. Access to South Korea’s government procurement market will also be improved. Suppliers from Quebec will benefit from expanded opportunities at the central government level, putting them on an equal footing with suppliers from the United States and in a better position vis-à-vis others such as Japan and the European Union.
The strong provision on non-tariff measures, backed up by a fast and effective dispute settlement provision, will also contribute to facilitate trade between Quebec and South Korea.
Now, I would like to turn to some of the specific benefits the Canada-Korea free trade agreement will bring to Quebec in different sectors, including industrial goods and agricultural and agri-food products. The area of industrial goods is a significant component of Quebec’s economy. There are over 295,000 hard-working Quebeckers and their families that depend on the industrial goods sector for their livelihood, with the sector accounting for approximately 11% of Quebec’s GDP.
From 2011 to 2013, Quebec’s exports of industrial goods to South Korea were worth an annual average of $280 million. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement will significantly improve market access opportunities for Quebec’s industrial goods sector by eliminating all tariffs. Upon entry into force of the agreement, over 96% of South Korean tariff lines for industrial goods will be subject to immediate duty-free access, with the remaining 5% eliminated within 10 years.