Evidence of meeting #34 for International Trade in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was negotiations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Steve Verheul  Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Jason Langrish  Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business
  • José Isaías Rodríguez García-Caro  Member of the Committee, European Economic and Social Committee
  • Sandy Boyle  President, International Relations Section, European Economic and Social Committee
  • Jean-François Bence  Director, Consultative Works, European Economic and Social Committee
  • Rose D'Sa  Member, European Economic and Social Committee

5 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

No, what it does mean is that these economic policies aren't working—

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business

Jason Langrish

But it doesn't.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

—and when you have the middle class earning less now than they were two decades ago, that's a matter of concern.

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business

Jason Langrish

So do you now say that taxation policies could be—

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

You've made your point, and now I'm going to make the rebuttal.

The issue is what is the trade template that we have, and does it have a dysfunctional result? When you look at the export figures for each of these markets where we signed bilateral agreements, the exports actually declined.

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business

Jason Langrish

No, they haven't.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

So there's a fundamental problem when we sign these agreements and we end up, as we have with Costa Rica, actually seeing a decline in exports to those markets. That's a fundamental problem that I think your association should be looking at.

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business

Jason Langrish

Okay, I thank you for your lecture, and I'd be happy to take any further questions.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

That's what we have to do.

We have time, I think, for one more, and that would be by Mr. Allison. You will begin, and if you want to share your time.... Or is Mr. Trost...?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Well, I actually wanted to, but I'm going to share it.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

Actually, I see you have the Conservative international trade expert, Mr. Peter Braid, here today.

Are you going to lead the questions?

Oh, it's Mr. Trost. Very good.

November 15th, 2010 / 5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

I will ask one question here, and then we'll rotate to one of my colleagues.

I'm wondering if you might elaborate a little bit more about labour mobility and what it means to your members, specifically what you would prioritize as being important to Canada, again from your members' perspective as far as labour mobility is concerned, and how you would advise us in going about lobbying and pushing for it.

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business

Jason Langrish

On labour mobility and these things, they are always prioritized. The big driver behind labour mobility is the fact that companies operate globally. So Canadian companies operate in European member states and vice-versa. The number one interest that they're going to have is being able to move their executives around without having to go through very tedious visa requirements. You'd also be looking at things like spousal visas. That's very important, because, obviously, married or common law couples don't really want to split when presented with a job. Both want to be able to work. So that would be a priority.

The other priority is also with regard to professional services, probably at the higher level. As an example, a European company could be invested, say, in Alberta. Maybe it's a technological program of some sort, like a carbon capture and storage program or something like that. It's not reasonable in all cases to expect that if some German company, say, is going to be a lead partner on some project, we're going to find a Canadian engineer who's going to be the principal on it, at least at the outset. They're probably going to have to bring somebody over to get the project moving and to do some coaching to help build the team, and so on. Something that companies are going to be looking for is the ease with which they can move their people around when they choose when and where they're going to be doing projects. You're not talking about creating new jobs here; you're talking about allowing people to move in the first case, and it's those investments that are going to create new jobs.

Also, with regard to the highly skilled workers, like engineers, architects, lawyers, and financial service providers, a degree of mobility is going to be important there, because the reality is that these are positions that operate in a global environment, and if you're not able to provide that type of response to labour mobility, they'll go elsewhere.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

I have a question for Mr. Langrish.

Thank you very much for being here. You've touched on this; could you please elaborate on the impact you feel the CETA between Canada and the EU will have on the level of innovation in Canada and the creation of knowledge-based jobs, the sorts of jobs that we want to see established in our economy?

5:05 p.m.

Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business

Jason Langrish

Well, again, a study done recently by the Rotman School of Management basically said that we need to be pursuing these free trade agreements because it is this level of competition that stimulates innovation.

That happened in countries like Sweden or Finland when they opened up their economies and restructured. Sweden restructured in the 1990s. It liberalized its economy and became more outward-looking. The levels of productivity increased and the levels of innovation increased. With the increase in productive capacities in open markets, the level of export increased as well. This is the kind of thing that we see the CETA doing.

This is not a race to the bottom. We're not competing against a jurisdiction that has low labour costs or low labour standards; in fact, they're higher than ours. The reason they have higher levels of productivity is not that they're inherently smarter or more competitive than we are; it's because they operate in an environment that is inherently more competitive than the one in which we operate. If we believe that we can ring-fence our industries and pursue some kind of state-driven industrial policy and experience growth in productivity and export markets and national wealth, we're kidding ourselves.