Canada–Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama
Ed Fast Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
- Nov. 7, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- Nov. 6, 2012 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-24, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama, not more than two further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the Bill; and That,15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the second day allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
- June 20, 2012 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.
- June 20, 2012 Passed That this question be now put.
- June 7, 2012 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-24, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama, not more than seven further hours shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, at the expiry of the seven hours on the consideration of the second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 7th, 2012 / 5 p.m.
Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues who have spoken so far to Bill C-24, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama. They have also done a fine job of explaining the NDP's position on this bill and why we oppose it.
I am pleased to speak to Bill C-24 on the Canada-Panama free trade agreement. This is not the first time we have talked about this bill and opposed it. It was introduced in the House in the 40th Parliament, where it reached second reading stage. The bill died on the order paper because of the election, as we all know.
I will try to explain why the NDP opposes this bill and the trade agreements proposed therein.
The free trade agreement is worrisome given the controversies surrounding Panama's track record on respecting workers' rights, human rights and the environment and because Panama is used as a tax haven for tax evasion.
In our opinion, this agreement promotes the exploitation of workers and human rights. When the committee studied Bill C-46, we heard convincing testimony about the fact that Panama had a bad track record when it comes to workers' rights and that the side agreements on labour co-operation were very weak.
Teresa Healy, senior researcher with the social and economic policy department of the Canadian Labour Congress, said:
The Canada-Panama agreement does not include specific protection for the right of association and the right to strike. Instead, it provides “effective“ recognition for the right to bargain collectively. As far as union rights are concerned, the agreement is, therefore, weaker than previous agreements.
On labour issues, the amendments are modest; there are no countervailing duties; there is no provision for abrogation or any other such remedy; and again, labour provisions are in a side agreement outside the main agreement.
I would like to say a few words about labour rights in Panama.
Panama has a population of about 3.4 million. It is currently enjoying relatively high rates of growth, but it is ranked second among countries in the region in terms of inequality: 40% of Panama's inhabitants are poor, 27% are extremely poor, and the rate of extreme poverty is particularly high among indigenous populations. In recent years, the country has undergone considerable liberalization and privatization, but they have not trickled down to financially benefit the population.
When we look at Panama's labour laws and the lack of protection for its working people, it amazes me that the Government of Canada is in such a hurry to sign an agreement with this country.
Teresa Healy of the Canadian Labour Congress testified before the committee about the labour co-operation agreement. She said that, although the agreement mentions the International Labour Organization's core labour standards, it is still too weak. What is more, in recent years, the Panamanian government has been increasingly harsh on labour unions and workers. We are convinced that this trade agreement does not respect the integrity of human rights.
The Government of Canada issued an official warning that can be found on the site for tourists and investors. It reads:
OFFICIAL WARNING: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel beyond the town of Yaviza in Darién Province. The danger zone begins at the end of the Pan American Highway (past Yaviza, about 230 km southeast of Panama City) and ends at the Colombian border. This area includes parts of Darién National Park and privately owned nature reserves and tourist resorts. Due to the presence of Colombian guerrilla groups and drug traffickers, levels of violent crime in this zone are extremely high, with numerous reports of kidnapping, armed robberies, deaths and disappearances.
I would also like to add that Darién National Park is a nature reserve in the Darién region of Panama that has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1981.
Darién National Park is the largest of Panama's national parks. It is connected to Los Katíos National Park in Colombia.
I would like to quote the hon. member for Newton—North Delta. When the bill reached second reading stage, she said:
It seems that we have not learned too many lessons from our experiences with NAFTA. As a result of NAFTA, we have seen hundreds of thousands of jobs disappear over the border and into other countries.
During the clause-by-clause review, the NDP member for Vancouver Kingsway proposed several amendments that would have made progressive changes to the bill. The changes would have integrated into the bill the protection of workers' rights, including the right to collective bargaining. Other amendments would have required the Minister of International Trade to consult workers and unions, as well as human rights experts and organizations, in order to conduct analyses of the impact of the trade agreement. That motion was rejected by the Conservatives and the Liberals.
As for respecting the environment, the agreement on the environment is an exact replica of environmental agreements we have signed before, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Rotterdam Convention on Trade in Hazardous Goods, and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
Canada and Panama have agreed to not weaken their environmental regulations in order to attract investment, and interested parties must ask the government to investigate suspected violations of environmental regulations. However, it is important to note that there are no financial penalties for non-compliance.
Panama is also a tax haven. In March 2012, Canada and Panama began negotiations on a tax information exchange agreement. However, this agreement has not yet been signed. A lot of money laundering goes on in Panama, particularly with money from drug trafficking. The lack of tax transparency in Panama led the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD, to label this country as a tax haven. It is often necessary to know the name of the suspected tax evader in order to obtain tax information from the other country. Governments cannot easily access this information.
Before the clause-by-clause review of Bill C-24, the member for Vancouver Kingsway moved a motion in committee to postpone the implementation of the Canada-Panama trade agreement until Panama agreed to sign a tax information exchange agreement. Once again, this motion was voted down by the Conservatives and the Liberals.
We want fair trade. In my riding, Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, many people buy fair trade coffee. Do my colleagues have any idea what fair trade coffee is?
Panama is the smallest coffee producer in Central America. In the 2000s, the country experienced a coffee crisis. Producers banded together, and Panama's coffee was chosen as the best in the world for the first time in 2004. Fair trade coffee is the result of demand from consumers who all decided to make choices that would ensure that the producers receive fair payment for their product.
With this free trade agreement, we are worried that small producers will not end up processing or marketing their products. There is a very big risk of a third party taking over these steps, thus depriving the producer of the added value when selling the product. It is no easy task to protect one's business in a sector dominated by a handful of large-scale producers, and this is not a fair market.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 7th, 2012 / 4:50 p.m.
Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation
Mr. Speaker, there are no words I like to hear more than “new markets”.
I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-24, the legislation implementing the Canada-Panama free trade agreement, as well as the related agreements on labour co-operation and the environment. Today I would like to focus on the commercial opportunities that exist in Panama. It is unfortunate that members opposite continue to suggest that this agreement should not be a priority for our government. It is no surprise to hear this from New Democrats. They, after all, have consistently opposed our government's efforts to open up new markets and create new opportunities for our exporters.
It is disappointing to hear others, like the member for Malpeque, whose own constituents stand to benefit from this agreement, in particular Prince Edward Island's potato exporters. The member for Malpeque has suggested that since our bilateral trade with Panama represents a fraction of our global trade, we should not concern ourselves with it. How wrong he is. That is why today I would like to spend a few minutes talking about some of the opportunities that exist in Panama and why it is in our nation's best interests to forge closer economic ties with this dynamic and fast-growing economy.
Panama has long been considered a logistics centre and international connection point in the Latin American region. Panama is often referred to as the gateway to Latin America and plays a critical role in connecting the Americas. Panama is a central point for goods travelling to Latin America, a nexus for international trade and a strategic hub for the region. According to Panamanian estimates, 5% of world trade passed through the Panama Canal in 2010, but that is not all. In addition to its importance as a hub for global shipping, Panama boasts a stable and robust economy with the second highest per capita income in Central America. In 2011, Panama's economy recorded real GDP growth of 10.6% and all indications show that this impressive growth rate will continue well into the future.
Like Canada, Panama welcomes international commerce and is committed to providing a stable and pro-business environment for trade and investment. In 2011, Panama received the fifth highest score in Latin America in the annual World Bank rankings of countries for ease of doing business. Panama is a perfect example of a dynamic, fast-growing economy with tremendous potential, just the type of economy our businesses need to engage with in order to succeed in the 21st century.
It should not be a surprise that Canadian businesses have already begun taking notice of this country's commercial potential. In 2011, our two-way merchandise trade totalled $235 million and this figure is rapidly growing. In fact, over the past five years bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Panama has increased by 105%. Panama currently represents our second most important export destination in Central America. Number one is Costa Rica and we already have a free trade agreement there. It is clear that this thriving economy offers tremendous commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses, but what is even more impressive are the opportunities that lay ahead.
Panama continues to invest heavily in large strategic projects that will solidify its position as an important emerging market in the global economy. In addition to the widely reported $5.3 billion project to expand the Panama Canal, the Panamanian government is implementing a five-year infrastructure plan valued at $13.6 billion. Furthermore, under the strategic plan, the government of Panama has designated $2.8 billion for transportation infrastructure projects alone. Numerous infrastructure projects to build hospitals, social housing, bridges and airports are either already in progress or under consideration. Looking ahead, tendering processes for projects such as airport improvement and the construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal are expected in the coming months.
Opportunities also exist in the energy sector, which is, as we all know, another area of expertise for Canadian companies. Panama's energy needs have increased significantly in recent years, with demand increasing 5% to 7% annually. The expansion of the Panama Canal and a large number of other private and public infrastructure projects have led to an aggressive road map for increasing the installed base of energy generation and transmission.
Canadian companies are acknowledged leaders in the development of these types of projects and clearly have the expertise to meet Panama's development plans. By implementing the Canada-Panama free trade agreement, our government will support Canadian companies looking to capitalize on these opportunities, by solidifying their ability to participate in large-scale infrastructure projects in Panama. The government procurement chapter in this agreement will guarantee that Canadian suppliers have non-discriminatory access to the broad range of government procurement opportunities in Panama and receive the same treatment as Panamanian firms when bidding for these opportunities.
Panama's vibrant market has been sparking interest in the business community across Canada. Canadian companies are eager to capitalize on these commercial opportunities. Our government is doing all it can to support Canadian companies. The opportunities are out there, and clearly Canadian firms have the expertise to succeed. It is our job to ensure they have access to these opportunities and are able to compete on a level playing field against foreign competitors.
With the United States-Panama free trade agreement entering into force on October 31 of this year, we must act quickly to implement the Canada-Panama free trade agreement so Canadian companies can compete on a level playing field and continue to be successful in Panama. Despite the continued opposition of the Liberals and the NDP, our government is creating new opportunities for Canadian exporters.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 7th, 2012 / 4:35 p.m.
Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege and an honour to rise in the House this afternoon to speak to this very important Canada-Panama free trade agreement.
I think it is the third time that I have visited Panama as part of the trade committee of which I have been a member for about six and half years. Back in May 2008, we travelled to Panama and had over 60 hours of extensive debate in a variety of committees and in the chamber. I am hoping that later this afternoon we will see logic prevail and this agreement continue through the House and become an act as soon as possible for businesses across Canada so they will have a rules-based and fair-trading system in a Canada-Panama relationship.
I will first take a moment to thank all the members of the House who paid tribute to our veterans. The speeches we heard were very emotional. When we look into the eyes of our veterans, we think of the men and women who are serving today and have served. I think of the veterans in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country. It is an honour and a humbling experience to be their member of Parliament. It is because of their dedication and sacrifice that we have the best country in the world.
Our government believes in the importance of our veterans. We also want to expand our economy to make Canada an even better place.
We are focusing on a global commerce strategy because we understand the importance of trade. In fact, one in every five jobs is dependent on trade in Canada and it represents nearly 65% of our country's income. Indeed, the importance of international trade to an export-oriented economy like Canada has cannot be overestimated. There is no doubt that trade sustains the incomes and living standards of Canadians and ensures the long-term prosperity of our country. Furthermore, integration with regional and global trading networks is essential.
As a trading nation, Canadian exporters, producers and investors need access to international markets to stay competitive. It is pretty simple: When we trade, we become more competitive. Prices for goods and services go down. wages, salaries and our standard of living go up, and businesses are able to hire more workers. In addition, internationally-oriented firms are better positioned to withstand global downturns.
Our government understands, as most Canadians do, that trade is a kitchen table issue. The Minister of International Trade is with the Prime Minister in India right now working on expanding agreements. He understands the importance of trade to help families put food on the table and make ends meet.
We have heard from my hon. colleague for Yellowhead earlier today and yesterday from the member for London West, the hard-working member for the 10th largest city in Canada, as he likes to inform us, on the importance of how we need to work together to break down these trade barriers so that Canadian businesses can be competitive.
In my own riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, Campion Marine, the largest boat manufacturer in Canada, is continually requesting that we break down barriers so that the excise taxes that are in place in other countries can be eliminated and it can be competitive. That 5% sometimes can be the difference between success and hiring more people or, unfortunately, not being competitive in the marketplace.
As I mentioned, not only does trade support the quality of life for Canadians but it provides hope, jobs and opportunities for our children and grandchildren. It would be difficult for the average Canadian to imagine a world without international trade.
Our Conservative government clearly understands that our standard of living and Canadians' future prosperity will be generated by deepening and broadening our trading relationships. That is why deepening Canada's trading relationship is rapidly growing in markets around the world, such as Panama, which is an important part of this government's pro-trade plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
Canada's exporters, investors and service providers are calling for these opportunities. Business owners and entrepreneurs want access to global markets. We heard numerous witnesses testify at our trade committee saying that they need to be competitive. Unfortunately, the opposition continues to delay this.
We heard back on October 31, just last month, that the Panama-U.S. agreement had come into place. However, we are still at the gate. Our American colleagues in the south and their businesses are out making deals while we are spinning our wheels.
We cannot stop this. We need to continue to move forward. With the co-operation of the opposition and all members of this House, we can continue to expand, establish and grow our pro-trade plan.
Since 2006, Canada has concluded new trade agreements with nine countries. They include: Colombia; Jordan; Peru; the European trade association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland; most recently, Honduras; and, of course, the discussion this afternoon is on Panama.
We are also negotiating with more than 50 countries, including major economies such as the European Union, India and Japan. Last week I was with some of the trade committee members in Japan where we are working on an economic partnership agreement, which is looking very promising, to expand relationships with Japan.
A deal with the European Union would represent the most significant Canadian trade initiative since the North American free trade agreement. Such a deal could potentially boost our bilateral trade with this important partner by 20%. It could also provide a $12 billion annual boost to Canada's economy, which is like a $1,000 increase in the average Canadian family's income or almost 80,000 new jobs.
Canada has also officially joined the trans-Pacific partnership, otherwise known as the TPP. The potential benefits of this initiative are enormous. The TPP market represents more than 658 million people and a combined GDP of over $20 trillion.
By improving access to foreign markets for Canadian businesses, we are supporting the Canadian recovery and creating new jobs for Canadian workers. It is part of our economic action plan. As the Minister of Finance alluded to during question period, the importance of helping small businesses grow with a tax credit is an initiative within budget 2012.
Within our free trade agreement with Panama, we have the government's efforts to strengthen the Canadian economy once again. These are multi-prong approaches to help grow our economy and create jobs. Pursuing bilateral and regional trade agreements is essential to bringing continued prosperity to Canadians.
I understand, and it is unfortunate, the opposition NDP continues to stand in the way of our efforts to open up new markets for our exporters. I would love to see the WTO and the multilateral agreements come to completion as well, but the reality is that they are stalled. In the meantime we continue to work with bilateral agreements and multilateral with the trans-Pacific partnership.
The NDP comes up with all these excuses and says it believes in free and fair trade. We do as well, but we are also doing the trade agreements rather than just talking about them. The fact is that the NDP's anti-trade record is clear. My hon. colleague and seatmate just asked the opposition party if it could please list off the number of trade agreements it has supported over the last 20 years. It was like a deer in the headlights. Unfortunately, there was no response. The NDP members like to talk about it over there, but we are doing it. Going all the way back to NAFTA, they have consistently opposed our efforts to create new opportunities for exporters and investors. On this side of the House, we are tired of hearing all the naysayers. We will continue to move forward in creating jobs.
The anti-trade NDP's special interest backers continue to fearmonger and misrepresent the facts about trade. They believe that the global economy is something Canadian workers should fear. Our government knows that our businesses, our entrepreneurs and our workers can compete with the very best in the world and win. With a rules-based, level playing field, Canadians will be number one.
However, to compete and win, Canadians need to be on a level playing field. With the entry into force of the United States-Panama free trade agreement just last month, Canadian firms are no longer competing on a level playing field. Their American competitors are now able to sell their products in Panama at a lower cost as the result of the duty-free access they enjoy under the US-Panama FTA. This is why the implementation of this trade agreement is an urgent priority for our government. Canadian companies are constantly proving that they are competitive enough to compete and succeed in the global marketplace, but the government has a responsibility to do all it can to help those companies succeed abroad.
Governments do not create jobs. We create the framework and the environment. We minimize regulations. We have to have incentives where necessary, but ultimately it is the private sector that will create the jobs. That is why our government will fight to ensure that businesses have what they need to be successful abroad and ensure that the Canada-Panama free trade agreement is ratified and enters into force as soon as possible.
In closing, we must prevent Canadian firms from losing market share in Panama and defend the competitiveness of our businesses in this fast-growing emerging market. In a short time, we will be voting on Bill C-24 in the House. This is why I ask for the support of all hon. members for the Canada-Panama free trade agreement and the parallel labour co-operation and environment agreements. It is the right thing to do for Canadians.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 7th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
Annick Papillon Québec, QC
Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-24, the Canada–Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act.
Bill C-24 follows up on a trade agreement that we signed with Panama on August 11, 2009. This free trade agreement poses some problems in a number of areas, including with regard to workers' rights and environmental protection standards. Today, however, I will focus on the issue of tax evasion and money laundering, which is very troubling.
When Todd Tucker of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch testified before the Standing Committee on International Trade on November 17, 2010, he said:
Panama is one of the world's worst tax havens. It is home to an estimated 400,000 corporations, including offshore corporations and multinational subsidiaries. This is almost four times the number of corporations registered in Canada. So Panama is not just any developing country.
For decades, the Panamanian government has been deliberately pursuing a tax haven strategy. It offers foreign banks and firms a special offshore licence to conduct business there. Not only are these businesses not taxed, but they are subject to few regulations. According to the OECD, the Panamanian government does not have the legal capacity to verify key tax information about these businesses. Panama's shadowy financial practices also make it a very attractive place to launder money that comes from all over the world.
The Canada-Panama trade agreement could even exacerbate the problem posed by Panama's status as a tax haven. As the OECD pointed out, signing a trade agreement without first tackling Panama's shadowy financial practices may lead to greater tax evasion. There are no restrictions on capital entering or exiting Panama. Transactions are protected by banking secrecy, and financial activity is not monitored.
In March 2012, Canada and Panama entered into negotiations for a tax information exchange agreement. However, this agreement has not yet been concluded or signed. This is very troubling, considering the large amount of money laundering in Panama, including money from drug trafficking.
Furthermore, the issue of disclosing taxes has not been adequately addressed, even though the Panamanian government and the Conservative government claim that it has. Without a real political will, these agreements generally do nothing to eliminate legal tax evasion and do little to discourage individuals from illegally evading taxes. In general, tax information exchange agreements do not contain provisions on the automatic exchange of information. Individual requests must be made.
Members should listen carefully to what I am about to say, because it is the key part of my speech. The U.S. Congress refused to ratify a free trade agreement with Panama before it signed a tax information exchange agreement. According to tax evasion experts, the agreement with Panama enables it to sidestep the transparency provisions if they are contrary to Panamanian public policy.
As the opposition, we have made suggestions in the past to improve this agreement. During the clause-by-clause review, we proposed several amendments that would have made notable changes to the bill. These included the addition of crucial concepts of sustainable development and investment and, most importantly, we proposed a requirement for taxation transparency.
Before the clause-by-clause review of Bill C-24, the NDP moved a motion in the Standing Committee on International Trade to postpone the implementation of the Canada-Panama trade agreement until Panama agreed to sign an information exchange agreement. This motion was voted down by the Conservatives and the Liberals. That shows where those two dinosaur parties stand on proper, responsible tax policy.
Considering Panama's history and reputation in such matters, it is easy to see why such an agreement is necessary before we sign a trade deal. The U.S. Congress did not want to ratify the American free trade agreement with Panama until a tax information exchange agreement was signed. It is important to remember this because it is the crux of the matter. It is for this reason that the NDP has serious concerns, which I believe are shared by all Canadians.
Contrary to what the Conservatives would have Canadians believe, the NDP supports trade. We are in favour of developing Canadian exports by reducing trade barriers. We are in favour of developing an industry that exports value-added products. We are in favour of creating jobs in Canada by expanding access for Canadian products to foreign markets. We are in favour of increasing productivity by encouraging new investment. And, we are in favour of diversifying our exports.
The NDP has a trade strategy. We want to help Canadian businesses to be leaders in the global economy. We are going to improve the protection of human rights and the environment, and we will defend public resources and services that are essential to Canadians.
Finally, we are going to help lower Canada's trade deficit since, under the Conservative government, Canada has gone from having a trade surplus of $26 billion to having a trade deficit of $50 billion. Yes, I said “$50 billion”. It is shameful.
Since the Conservatives took office, the manufacturing trade deficit has increased sixfold to $90 billion. We are exporting $30 billion more in raw materials but $35 billion less in value-added products.
The Conservatives' track record shows that their trade approach is not working. That is understandable, because they are very bad managers. They are not going to become good managers by repeating the words “growth” and “economy”. Not at all. We know that, and so do Canadians.
The Conservatives are negotiating trade deals using an extreme, ideological strategy instead of making the interests of Canadians their priority. The Conservative government is completely dysfunctional and so is its trade strategy.
The NDP prefers a multilateral approach based on a sustainable trade model. In fact, bilateral trade deals are really just protectionist trade deals, since they give preferential treatment to a few partners and exclude the rest. This puts weaker countries in a position of inferiority vis-à-vis the larger partners. A sustainable multilateral trade model would avoid these issues while protecting human rights and the environment.
If the Conservative members have been listening to what I have tried to explain here, they will have understood that we do not oppose this agreement and that we want to give it a chance. All we are asking for is greater transparency. We do not want to be associated with tax evasion, and we especially do not want Canadian businesses to be associated with that, either.
I care about this country's businesses and their reputation. That is the difference between us and the Conservative government, which claims to be a good manager, to take care of Canadian interests and to be competent when it comes to the economy. This government is about to sign yet another free trade agreement—it is on quite a roll with these agreements—but it is not thinking carefully about its trade partners.
I am more than happy to do business, but not under just any conditions and to the detriment of Canadian businesses.
We in the NDP have ethics, and it would be nice if the government followed our lead.
What I wanted to say here today regarding the free trade agreement between Canada and Panama is simply that we support trade, but we believe that it must be carried out in a responsible and more serious manner for Canadians.
The House resumed from November 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-24, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama, be read the third time and passed.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 6th, 2012 / 5:45 p.m.
Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to engage in the debate on Bill C-24 at third reading, as I did at second reading, because it is an important debate and an important bill. It is about how we trade with other nations in the world. I have said before and will say again that it is my contention, and that of the official opposition, that Canada should be much more engaged in promoting multilateral trade. We should be working with the international community in its entirety. That is the best way to work toward better deals and arrangements to lift the trade standards of all countries equally, rather than trying to do one-offs with countries to beat the U.S. or the European community. Otherwise, it is kind of hit and miss.
As has been stated here, the Conservative government has not been particularly successful in improving our trade circumstances. We have such a significant trade deficit in this country. Deals with countries like Panama, while being important to the people who are doing business with Panama, and I do not want to understate that importance whatsoever, pale in comparison to our trading relationship with the United States and with many of the other countries that we are trying to trade with.
My colleague, the member for Beauport—Limoilou, did an excellent job of talking about the reason that we should be concerned about Panama's status as a tax haven. He talked about why that was such a problem and why it is that the government should be paying more attention to the concerns that have been raised by the international community, the OECD and the United States Congress, which refused to sign on to a trade deal with Panama until an agreement on the exchange of tax information was completed.
I heard one member opposite say the fact that the U.S. has signed on to a trade deal with Panama is another reason that we must hurry up and that we are again being surpassed by the U.S. This trade deal was originally signed by the current government back in 2009. The government members have not shown any urgency whatsoever to get it done. Now that we finally get it into the House and start to look at it and debate it, the Conservatives should not try to scare me, as a member of this chamber, into cutting down on my questions and concerns simply because the government has been tardy and as a result the United States has beaten us in that relationship with Panama. However, it has also shown us a bit about negotiations and about ensuring it is protecting the interests of Americans, in that case, because their Congress insisted on getting an agreement on the exchange of tax information before signing on to the deal. That is something the Conservatives have not done.
In the past three years, since the deal was signed, what have the Minister of International Trade and his colleagues been doing? What has the parliamentary secretary been doing? They should have been ensuring that this additional agreement on the exchange of tax information was completed and signed. We could have debated it in the House and it would have gone some distance in helping to encourage members of the opposition benches that this was a deal that had some merit. However, they did not do that.
I sometimes get the feeling, from the way government members talk about what great free traders they are, that all they are concerned about is being able to say they have signed a deal on trade. When it comes to ensuring the deal is the best one we could get, not perfect but the best one we could get, that would be good. That would be a point well taken. Unfortunately, the government tends to say it has a deal and it has to be signed regardless of members' objections.
New Democrats introduced 13 very reasonable, modest, important and integral amendments at committee and not one of them was supported by the government. There was everything from ensuring the side deals on labour and the environment are included, to tax transparency, to the question of increasing sustainable investment, to harmonious and sustainable development. These are matters that are important to us and to the Panamanian people. Surely, members opposite do not want to benefit from the exploitation of others.
While we can agree that we want Canadian companies and businesses in this country to profit and benefit from any trade we do with other countries, surely we recognize that does not mean we are at all content with benefiting at the expense of others. If it is as a result of exploiting child labour or causing the degradation of the environment of another country or exploiting or penalizing workers, surely members opposite will agree that it is simply not worth it.
Frankly, that is why I say we should be going the way of Australia and establishing principles on which to make sure we conduct ourselves as we relate with the rest of the world. As we engage in economic relationships with other countries, we need to set standards, as Australia has done. The standards deal with the promotion of multilateral trade with other countries to ensure that we all benefit from economic activity in the global community. That should be in the best interests of this country and the members of the House.
I want to pick up on one thing that caused me some concern and that is the comments made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The question of investor-state provisions was raised. He was asked a question about the fact that this agreement contains the same investor-state provisions as the free trade agreement with the United States. In that respect, it ensures that Canadian companies will be dealt with in that country on the basis of certain laws and rules, and so on. That is questionable when dealing with a country such as Panama that is developing its justice system. However, the Panamanian companies that are dealing with Canada can have access to those provisions and can sue our companies or our subnational governments, if they feel they are being wrongly dealt with economically.
I am concerned, in light of the fact that the government is engaging in the FIPA, the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with China, in complete secrecy by the way, that he does not understand an important part of the provision with Panama, let alone an important part of the FIPA with China.
Perhaps I will a get a chance to address this concern more fully when questions are asked.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 6th, 2012 / 5:15 p.m.
Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou for sharing his time with me.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to debate Bill C-24.
While the members opposite might not want to recognize it, New Democrats are absolutely in favour of developing good trading relationships. We understand the need for expanding our markets, but that does not mean that we will give our support to bad agreements. We cannot give uncritical support for the mere notion of trade, and we will stand opposed to those agreements that unnecessarily expose Canada to playing fields that are anything but level.
New Democrats would like to see agreements that go about creating and preserving jobs here in Canada, not documents that hasten the movement of production to other countries. I think most Canadians would agree that keeping good-paying jobs in Canada should be a bare minimum condition for a trade deal and that creating more and better jobs should be the real goal.
The government is fully aware that only New Democrats proposed amendments to the Canada-Panama free trade agreement when the bill was studied at committee. That is a clear example of how we are willing to work to make this agreement better. We clearly are focused on agreements that prove to be of net benefit to Canadians. It cannot be said that New Democrats did not come to the table prepared to work and make the agreement better for Canada and Panama. In that respect, we are pragmatic about trade agreements. The government paints that as something else. However, we have seen that over time, New Democrats' reservations are usually based on probable outcomes and not on an exercise in wishful thinking.
With Bill C-24, there are critical problems that underline the significant differences in belief that separate us from the Conservatives and the Liberals when it comes to negotiating trade deals. For example, we believe that the preconditions to ensuring a level playing field should already be more or less in place. Without that, one country may reap a significant advantage, such as an abundance of cheap, poorly paid labour that operates under substandard labour laws with respect to important Canadian ideals such as workplace health and safety.
New Democrats have also had long-standing disagreements about the significance of environmental protection and the role that should play as these agreements are developed, contrary to the other side. In fact, this trade agreement, like too many others, has a critical flaw in terms of environmental protection. Those measures have been tucked inside a side deal instead of being given prominence in the agreement itself. That further entrenches the belief that the environment must take a back seat to economic interests, which is a view that is irresponsible and unsustainable.
Therefore, when we look at Bill C-24, we ask ourselves what the advantage is for Canada. Will Canada come out ahead? This is not guaranteed. Does this deal reflect the kind of country we are? Again, there are no guarantees, and there are more than a few requests that we take a leap of faith instead. We are asked to take a leap of faith on the environment, on labour, and on the transparency of the Panamanian government and its intention to deal with Panama's reputation as a tax haven. Quite simply, Panama has a long history of being a tax haven. It has gone out of its way to help people hide money from countries like Canada, and that sends up a red flag for many Canadians.
The Conservatives tell us that they are negotiating a separate deal with Panama to address this concern, but on this issue, the government has a credibility problem. It is easily argued that the Conservatives have little interest in addressing offshore tax havens. I will let members decide what the motives for that might be. We know that the Conservative government cut back on inspectors and the resources Revenue Canada uses to catch offshore tax cheats. That is not the stuff of a government that takes the problem seriously. It does not even make economic sense. We know full well that every dollar spent investigating offshore tax fraud nets five dollars in return. Any person on the street would tell us that this is money well spent. Therefore, we can dump the argument that this is somehow about saving money.
This is why New Democrats have a difficult time believing the government's claim that it is addressing the problem in a separate agreement. The fact that it is not already in place, ahead of this free trade agreement, is distressing. I am certain that most Canadians would agree that if someone were bleeding their income, they would not go out of their way to do more business with that person without first addressing that pre-existing problem. It is not as if we are the junior partner here. This is an agreement we do not absolutely need to make, so the question of why the tax loopholes were not addressed first is legitimate.
Labour conditions are another concern that should be considered more important in the negotiation of trade agreements in general and with Panama specifically. We know that any labour rights in the agreement are not built into the deal itself. They are part of a side agreement that does not really have much in the way of teeth.
Consider that Panama is quite a bit smaller than Canada, with only 3.4 million people, and is a significantly unequal society. A full 40% of the population is poor. The rate of extreme poverty is 27%. That problem is particularly acute among indigenous populations.
Given those facts, it should be clear that we are in a position to use a trade agreement as a tool to help Panama address its problem. Yet without better entrenching labour conditions, we are passing up that opportunity. It is too bad, since we know that the country has gone through significant structural adjustment, liberalization and privatization in recent years that has not translated into economic benefits for the population. Without a bit of a push from a larger partner in a trade agreement, it is difficult to imagine much changing, and it is an opportunity lost. I say that being fully aware of worrisome trends in Panama and how that country is vulnerable when it comes to labour rights and human rights.
Many members will know that in 2010, President Ricardo Martinelli unilaterally changed Panamanian laws. He put an end to environmental impact studies on projects deemed to be of social interest, banned mandatory dues collections from workers, allowed employers to fire striking workers and replace them with strike breakers, criminalized street blockades and protected police from prosecution. Predictably, President Martinelli's attack on labour rights resulted in strikes and demonstrations. Six people were killed, while other protesters were seriously injured. Many were blinded by tear gas and police violence. Ultimately, 300 trade union leaders were detained before the president withdrew the labour provisions and called for a national dialogue with moderate trade union leaders and business leaders. This is not the behaviour of a government that respects labour rights, or human rights, for that matter.
I know there are many on the benches opposite who view organized labour as adversaries. However, I am sure there are precious few who would agree with the severity of the Panamanian response or even with the measures that set these events in motion.
Therefore, when New Democrats say that we would like to see labour rights better protected in this trade agreement, one can see that this is based on very real concerns and unsettling trends. We are not convinced that Panama is quite ready to be given favoured trading partner status or that this agreement has the teeth needed to help lift Panama up to our standards.
I would like to reiterate that we are happy to use trade agreements as a way to make our economy stronger and more vibrant. We believe this can be done without blinders that limit the scope and imagination of what can be negotiated. On this issue, as with so many others, we hear the words of our former leader, Jack Layton, urging us on with a simple phrase: “Don't let them tell you it can't be done”.
Therefore, we call on the government to similarly challenge itself to arrive at trade deals that expand Canadian exports by reducing harmful barriers to trade, that encourage the development of value-added industries, that create Canadian jobs by increasing market access for our products and that increase productivity by encouraging new investment. We say negotiate agreements that diversify our exports, especially in emerging markets, and deals that help reduce Canada's trade deficit and improve protections for labour rights, human rights and the environment.
We support agreements that benefit consumers by expanding choice and bringing down prices and that reflect Canadian values such as transparency, accountability and human rights. That is what Canadians deserve.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 6th, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.
Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC
While they were speaking, I visited the OECD website and learned that Canada has not signed an information exchange agreement with Panama, although it has done so with many other countries. I will not list them all, because we have signed information agreements with several dozen of them, which means that we can exchange tax information with them.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 6th, 2012 / 4:30 p.m.
Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House today. The Albas family has a strong connection to Panama. In fact, when my great-grandfather left Spain, he found work constructing the Panama Canal, and eventually was able to work his way up to Canada where he set roots. The rest is history.
I am very pleased to rise in the House today to talk about the Canada-Panama free trade agreement. Our Conservative government has been very clear about the priority it places on implementing free trade agreements. These agreements help Canadians compete in overseas markets. We know that an export-driven economy helps Canadian companies, producers and investors to grow into international markets. When they grow, they add jobs in our local communities. One in five jobs in Canada is related directly to trade.
It is clear that jobs in the communities across Canada depend on the business we do with other countries. This is certainly true in my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla. I would like to share an example of that with the House today.
Recently in my riding, with the support of our government's agricultural innovation program, a new food packaging technology was developed that can drastically increase the shelf life of fresh fruits. This increase in shelf life means that marine shipping can now be an option for international markets instead of very costly air freight. Let us not forget that marine shipping is also more environmentally friendly than air freight.
We have a large number of fruit growers in my riding. I must say I am a little biased, but we grow some of the world's best fruit. Even this exciting new food technology, without having a free trade agreement that opens up new markets, quickly becomes pointless.
That is why trade agreements with countries like Panama are so important. It is why our government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians. Statistics demonstrate that trade flows more than double with our FTA partners after 10 years.
Looking at the Canada-Chile free trade agreement, for example, since the agreement was made 15 years ago, bilateral trade between Canada and Chile has more than tripled. I mention that because one of the largest private sector employers in my riding has built specialized equipment that is also sold into Chile. That provides jobs in my riding. I think that is pretty exciting.
Numerous studies have of course demonstrated the same positive impact of trade agreements on various sectors of our economy, but I prefer to walk through the plants in person to meet the workers and to see the innovative projects on which they are working.
It has been shown that the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States of America led to an improvement of 13.8% in productivity in the Canadian manufacturing sector, a remarkable trade-related achievement. In turn, increases in productivity lead to higher wages and a higher standard of living.
The benefits are clear. These trade agreements are helpful to our local economies. That is why our government is in the midst of the most ambitious pursuit of new and expanded trade and investment agreements in Canadian history. Since 2006, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Jordan, Peru, the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and most recently with Honduras and now, of course, Panama.
As another example, some of these countries are more prone to earthquakes.
In my riding, we have a value-added wood manufacturer that manufactures specialized cross-laminate wood panels. These wood products are as strong as concrete, but four to five times lighter. They require less energy to produce and they can be made from less valuable timber. It is easy to ship, and most important, it is very earthquake resilient.
We have the product. We have the technology and the expertise. However, now we need more markets opening their doors to these innovative products. That is why we are also negotiating with more than 50 countries, including major economies such as the European Union, India and Japan. These are potentially huge market for that specialty wood manufacturer in my riding.
All of these initiatives are critical to the economic future of our country. In order to grow at home, Canadian enterprises must be allowed to succeed abroad. They must be able to compete in a predictable, transparent and rules-based trading environment. More important, Canadian firms must be able to compete on a level playing field. They must not be at a competitive disadvantage in markets where other countries have these trade agreements in place.
There are a growing number of countries where Canadian companies are at a competitive disadvantage because their competitors have preferential market access under some form of trade agreement, and this is precisely what is happening in Panama if this House does not act quickly to approve this free trade agreement. While this House debates the merits of a trade agreement with Panama, the United States and the European Union are moving forward to implement their respective trade agreements with this vibrant and prosperous economy.
The United States-Panama trade promotion agreement entered into force October 31, 2012. Panama also signed a free trade agreement with the European Union this past July, which could enter into force by the end of the year. Many Canadian goods and services are now in direct competition with those of the United States and potentially the European Union in Panama.
Let me provide another example of this. In the community of Okanagan Falls, in my riding, is one of the world's leading manufacturers of electrical power and control equipment. It does a lot of business in the international mining sector, and right now Panama has a thriving mining industry.
It is important that Canadian manufacturers can bid on work equally with their international competitors, and this is precisely why I am here today speaking in support of this agreement. In my view, we cannot allow American and European firms to have preferential access to the Panamanian market on a number of products that are key exports for Canadian firms.
It is not just for the benefit of my riding. Canadian firms exporting products, such as beef, pork products, frozen french fries, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, vehicles and machinery will all be at a competitive disadvantage. They will continue to face duties, while products from the United States now enjoy preferential access. We, in Canada, cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while other countries vigorously pursue trade deals to secure better market access for their products and services.
This government will not stand by, and we will defend the interests of Canadian companies to compete on a level playing field. This is precisely what this agreement does, and that is why I am supporting it on behalf of the people in my riding who will benefit from it. It is imperative that we implement the Canada-Panama free trade agreement to ensure Canadian companies remain competitive in the Panamanian market and can quickly move to access that market.
This will benefit Canadian families in my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla, and many other regions in our great country. The member for British Columbia Southern Interior has a tremendous amount of timber supply in his riding, which supplies the firm in Okanagan Falls that manufactures the cross-laminate beams. This is important for everyone in the interior of B.C.
Before I close, I would like to share one more thought about free trade in general.
Recently a local newspaper in my riding reran some of the stories of the day from 25 years ago. As some members may recall, the same anti-free trade rhetoric we are hearing today was also being used 25 years ago against the Canada-U.S. free trade deal. Some members may recall that the anti-trade critics in those days ran commercials illustrating the border between Canada and the United States being somehow erased. Claims were made that tens of thousands of Canadian jobs would soon disappear and that Canadian sovereignty itself would be compromised. The critics claimed that Canada could never compete on a level playing field with the United States and that the deal, if it went ahead, would be the end of our great nation. Today we can clearly see how very wrong those critics were.
Since the agreement came into force, in 1989, our Canadian annual GDP has risen by $1.1 trillion dollars. Nearly 4.6 million jobs have been created in Canada, and our two-way trade in goods and services with the United States has more than tripled. Today our economy, our economic growth rate, our unemployment rates all consistently outperform the United States, and Canada is the strongest nation economically in the G7. Recently Canadian household wealth surpassed the United States for the first time in history.
As for the critics who were wrong about the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, in my view, they have simply recycled the same arguments from 25 years ago and are using them again today.
Getting back to that story from 25 years ago in the Okanagan, the story was focused on a local grape grower who pondered what free trade might do to the Okanagan grape growing industry. The comments from the B.C. grape grower were not unlike what we hear from free trade opponents today. Those comments from 25 years ago were as follows:
...B.C. grape growers are doomed once provincial government mark-ups on imported wines are phased out over seven years. “I know for sure there is no way we can compete with California...” The Americans have cheaper land and labour.
Of course today we know we can not only compete, we can produce some of the best wine in the world. Today in the Okanagan, premium grape growing land is some of the most valuable agricultural land in the province of British Columbia, if not Canada as well. One of my constituents even consults in the United States on how to produce great wine. Under free trade, the B.C. wine industry has grown from a handful of wineries 25 years ago to well over 206 today. Speaking to some of the wine operators, I should also add there are another 40 or so that are going through the permit process. That number, I am hopeful, will soon jump to over 246. I should also note the B.C. wine industry now supports 3,000 jobs. Those are a lot of jobs, and that is what can be achieved with the power of free trade. That is why I am in full support of this deal.
I urge all members of Parliament to support the passage of Bill C-24.
Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act
November 6th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.
John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON
Exactly. On that same day the Conservative government tabled the agreement in the House as Bill C-46. The bill passed second reading and committee stage, but it died on the order paper at the dissolution of the 40th Parliament. The legislation was reintroduced on November 15, 2011 as Bill C-24. So we can hardly be accused of holding this legislation up.
Nonetheless, we are opposing the bill for a number of reasons. When the committee considered Bill C-46, it heard compelling testimony from witnesses about the use of Panama as a tax haven for tax evasion and avoidance. Furthermore, Panama has a poor record on labour rights and the deal's side agreements on labour and the environment are very weak.
I started my speech by saying that with some amendments and more careful consideration of the bill, we could make it a better bill. Here, I hope that someone on the government side asks me a question about the two side agreements, one on labour and one on the environment. If the Conservatives simply put those side agreements into the body of the agreement, then those agreements would have teeth. Those two side deals would have real consequences in this agreement. We would accept that. That would be wonderful and reasonable, but the Conservatives refused to do it.
We are also very concerned that the agreement provides greater rights and powers to foreign investors. That is worrisome given the controversies on the environmental and human rights records of some firms operating in Panama. Recent committee testimony on Bill C-24 confirms that these issues continue to be of concern. Motions and amendments that would address the glaring issues in the agreement were introduced by our critic from Vancouver Kingsway, but were opposed and defeated by the Conservatives and Liberals.
We have tried to make this a bill that we could support. The amendments were reasonable and well thought out, and I will talk about them in a moment. Prior to clause-by-clause review of Bill C-24, our critic from Vancouver Kingsway proposed to the Standing Committee on International Trade a motion that would stop implementation of the Canada-Panama trade agreement until Panama agreed to sign a tax information exchange agreement, called TIEA. His motion was defeated.
The Conservatives and Liberals argued that progress was being made in the negotiations under way to sign an agreement. Considering Panama's history and reputation in such matters, it should be clear why such an agreement is necessary before signing a trade deal and why we need to examine its terms to assess its adequacy. The U.S. Congress would not ratify the American free trade agreement with Panama until this was signed.
I do not know what happened behind closed doors with the Conservatives. Perhaps they asked Panama to sign the same kind of agreement the Americans had. Maybe Panama refused, but the point is that the Conservatives have gone ahead without having any sort of agreement signed.
Subsequently, during clause-by-clause review of the bill, our critic proposed several amendments that would have made progressive changes to the bill. These included the addition of the crucial concepts of sustainable development and sustainable investment, a requirement for taxation transparency, and provisions to incorporate in the bill the protection of labour rights, including the right to collective bargaining. Other amendments would have required the minister of international trade to consult with labour and trade unions, as well as to work with human rights experts and organizations to create impact assessments for this agreement. A final amendment would have required Parliament to vote on extending the provisions of the act after five years. All of these amendments were voted down by the Conservatives, with the help of the Liberals.
The status of labour rights in Panama is a major concern, and it is a complete failure of this trade agreement that it fails to ensure that these rights are not denied to Panamanian workers, as they would have been in the past. Moreover, I reiterate that the side agreements could easily have been incorporated into the body of the agreement. Had that happened, there might have been considerable support from this side of the House for this agreement. There were other amendments that we proposed, but those two are very important.
We did support the free trade agreement with Jordan. We have, at second reading, voted to support trade agreements to get them to committee so that we could offer amendments to make the legislation even better. Canadians expect us to work together in the House to come forward with the absolute best legislation we possibly can. In this and the last Parliament, we have seen legislation from the other side that could have been better if the government had just accepted suggestions and amendments from our side of the House. It could have been legislation that all Canadians could be proud of.
Two of the amendments put forth in committee by our critic would have protected trade union workers in Panama by offering them the right to collective bargaining, as well as requiring the minister of international trade, as the principal representative of Canada on the joint Panama-Canada commission, to consult on a regular basis with representatives of Canadian labour and trade unions. Like all other amendments, these were defeated.
Unfortunately, this creates a free trade zone that belittles the rights of labour. This is a serious problem that is already quite prevalent in Panama. I believe that we had 13 amendments to the bill at committee stage. Not one of them was accepted. The Conservatives and the Liberals had no amendments. We have been working to make these agreements better, but we have not had any success.
In addition, two amendments regarding definitions were proposed by our member from Vancouver Kingsway. The first was regarding sustainable development. That amendment defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, as set out in the Brundtland Report published by the World Commission on Environment and Development”.
The second amendment was regarding the definition of sustainable investment. The amendment would define sustainable investment as “investment that seeks to maximize social good as well as financial return, specifically in the areas of the environment, social justice, and corporate governance, in accordance with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment”.
The labour co-operation agreement is not as strong as it could be. Its enforcement mechanisms are weak, the fines are small, there are no countervailing duties, and there is no provision for abrogation or any such remedy. Quite frankly, it is troubling.
We do want free trade, but we support free trade agreements that expand Canadian exports by reducing harmful barriers to trade. We encourage the development of value-added industries. We believe in creating Canadian jobs by increasing market access to our products; increasing productivity by encouraging new investment; diversifying our exports, especially in emerging markets; and also agreements that help reduce Canada's trade deficit.