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 european.

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

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

Thank you. That would be incredible.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I would be overjoyed. I may bring copies next week so folks can read them on the plane.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

You could bring them Wednesday and save us the anticipation. Thank you.

We're now going to move to Mr. Allison. I understand you're going to share your time with the parliamentary secretary.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

I most certainly am.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to our witnesses.

Non-tariff barrier regulations obviously have been an issue. You talk about a separate chapter. Could you elaborate a bit more for us just in terms of where that whole non-tariff-barrier regulatory direction's going?

4:15 p.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

Sure. This was an area we wanted to concentrate on right from the beginning, because certainly the business community was telling us that a lot of the barriers in the EU market didn't relate to tariffs necessarily but more to regulatory standards and various other kinds of non-tariff barriers. When we start negotiating market access, unlike in most trade negotiations, we're not negotiating tariffs exclusively, we're negotiating market access. In other words, what does it take to get into the European Union market? We don't want to be surprised after the agreement is in place and other things pop up and we lose that access. So we have been taking a very comprehensive approach. Certainly the tariff side of that is fairly straightforward, if not easy, but the non-tariff-barrier part is more complex.

A big part of what we're concentrating on is regulatory cooperation--that is, getting our regulators to talk to each other on the ground floor before regulations start to get developed so they can try to avoid problems before they begin to emerge. Secondly, we're working on trying to address regulatory standards in particular by having things like some easing of the restrictions for Canada when it comes to meeting the standards, how you meet them, expenses related to meeting them, and trying to smooth the way to facilitate trade rather than throwing up more barriers. So we're putting a lot of effort and creative thinking on both sides, frankly, to try to address that issue, because it's one of the bigger ones.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Okay. Thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

Mr. Keddy.

November 15th, 2010 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Welcome to our witnesses.

I have a couple of points to make before I get to a question. There was an interesting discussion by the NDP on the auto sector. I would just question where we would sell automobiles, since we produce more than we can consume. I wonder where would we sell them, where our marketplace would be, and where those jobs would go. Maybe there's a study on that. I wouldn't mind seeing it.

4:15 p.m.

An hon. member

A credible study.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

With respect, there are a number of areas here that we're still negotiating. Obviously, those negotiations cannot be public, but there are articles and parts of those negotiations that I think as a committee we need to understand. That's only proper and correct for us as the international trade committee.

In particular on fish, you simply mentioned that fish could be a negotiating or sticking point. The EU obviously are snookering us on shrimp and have us outnumbered on ICCAT, or on those two particular issues, with tuna in particular being a migratory, cold-water species.

We have a sustainable tuna fleet, probably the only one in the world. However, we do have some ongoing problems. Though it's separate under this negotiation, we certainly don't want to lose the advantage that we have there, and we want a fair and open market in Europe for Canadian fish that's caught sustainably.

Could you just drill down a little more on fish in particular and how you see that unravelling?

4:20 p.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

We spent quite a bit of time on fish, as you might expect, over the course of the negotiations. We made it clear from the beginning that it was one of our primary offensive objectives. It's certainly the number one objective for most of the eastern provinces, and an important objective for B.C. as well. Certainly when we've been talking to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and New Brunswick, they've all said that fish is number one. The EU clearly is aware of the importance we attach to this, and certainly shrimp is at the top of the fish list, given the history we've had on that product in the EU market.

The discussion has become a little broader than simply tariffs and our interests in access to the EU market. There are also issues related to the tariff, including rules of origin and what's going to be considered a Canadian fish. So we're working on that, which has become a bit complex. We've also had some discussions on investment restrictions, both ways, in the fisheries. The EU has raised some concerns about some of our provincial export restrictions on fish, and they have suggested it's an area of concern to them. We've even had some discussion on access to ports by the EU, and it's come up in some of the environmental discussions as well.

So fish has come up in a number of different negotiating tables, but as part of the overall broad strategy, it's clearly one of our priorities, and the EU has recognized that.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

I appreciate that. It sounds as if most of those issues should be solvable. I want to say “easy to solve”, but I know better.

The other issue I would like a little clearer explanation on is the investor protection part of this agreement. I know the criticism made at the table here of chapter 11, but you have to have a rules-based system that protects investors. No one's saying that the system we have couldn't be improved somehow, but what should the end agreement look like that would allow investors—both from the EU investing in Canada, and Canadian investors investing in the EU—to have some measurable assurance that their investment is protected, should countries pass independent laws affecting that investment?

4:20 p.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

It is an area we're going to be spending a lot of time on, because I think the EU and Canada share a common objective in that area, for the most part. I don't think either of us has major concerns about investment protection in each other's markets, but we also want to set an example for other bilateral negotiations that each of us will pursue.

I think what we've seen in the last number of years is that all the bilateral investment treaties, or the foreign investment protection treaties we've negotiated and other countries have negotiated, include some type of investor protection mechanism. So virtually all countries are going down that track to some degree.

The EU, as I mentioned, is having to develop an EU-wide policy on investment protection, since they only recently gained competence on that issue over member states. They're in discussions to do that now. But clearly they have expressed the view that this is a good time to be negotiating with Canada because they can draw on our experience as well and try to come up with something that works for the two of us.

We are also looking at modifying the kinds of investment protection provisions we have had in the past to try to improve on those, to deal with frivolous cases that might come forward, that kind of thing. So we are looking at improving it as well.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

The final question, Mr. Chairman--

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Lee Richardson

You've had your final question. Sorry.