Evidence of meeting #33 for International Trade in the 41st Parliament, 1st 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

  • Ian Burney  Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Denis Landreville  Lead Negotiator, Regional Agreements, Trade Negotiations Division, Trade Agreements and Negotiations Directorate, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • Shenjie Chen  Head, Research Projects Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Phil Calvert  Director General, North Asia Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

11:25 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

We are pursuing both agreements simultaneously. We would really like to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Japan is also holding consultations to participate in the partnership. We believe that it is worth pursuing bilateral negotiations at the same time. There is no guarantee that we will become part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But even if we did, there is no guarantee that there would be a resolution. It could take a long time and I therefore believe that it is worth pursuing the bilateral process, as well.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Thank you.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

We'll now move to Mr. Cannan.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My thanks to Mr. Burney and the witnesses. It's always a pleasure to have you here as we move to expand our robust trade agenda.

I wanted to follow up on Mr. Holder's comment about the timeline. We have our cattle association and agriculture community, and working in conjunction is a big issue. I know that we have the trade office working overtime and deployed across the world. Mr. Fast is living out of a suitcase and opening doors around the world. I think he's in Australia or New Zealand right now.

So is there any general timeline? I see you're going to go May 8 and then take the lay of the land from there. Maybe you could give us a broad perspective on how you see the negotiations unfolding.

11:30 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

That's a good question, and it's one of the objectives I have next week, to discuss timelines with Japan.

From a Canadian standpoint, we'd like to move this forward as quickly as possible, but it takes two to tango in a negotiation, and we know that both countries have very full dance cards. In the case of Japan, we understand that they will soon be launching negotiations with the European Union. There's the possibility of a trilateral negotiation that's being discussed among Japan, China, and Korea. It's possible that might end up being a series of bilateral agreements. Japan has been discussing the possibility of negotiating with Mongolia. And from our perspective we also have a multitude of negotiating initiatives.

All I can say is that we would like the process with Japan to move forward as quickly as possible, and we will be exploring further next week what the art of the possible would be.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Excellent.

I think we all agree that a transparent rules-based system is going to be beneficial for both countries. I come from the Okanagan in the interior of British Columbia, and forestry is a big economic generator for British Columbia, and also for Quebec, as you mentioned. We have a sister city in Kasugai. I had the privilege of leading a delegation there when I was on city council in 2000. I spent nine days in the country there.

We just had a forest conference not too long ago, and I notice that the industry has reached out—it's just devastating what happened with the earthquake—and is trying to work in partnerships from a compassionate perspective as well to help rebuild their country.

What do you see as the opportunities for the forest sector with a more transparent, rules-based trade agreement in place?

11:30 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

I think that's one of the sectors where we would hope to see some of the strongest gains. I think the average level of Japanese tariffs is around 4%. The average tariff in the forestry sector is around 3.4%, but there are peaks as high as 10%. In a low-margin business like forest products, that can make a significant difference. There are also a variety of non-tariff issues and regulatory issues that affect the export of wood and wood products that we would want to take a closer look at in the context of the negotiations with Japan as well.

Particularly at a time when diversification is so important for the industry, I think we would be making maximum efforts to achieve a good outcome in the forestry sector for Canada.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that they'll get a couple of cases of Nova Scotia wine and some icewine from.... It's a big export market as well, potentially, for the Asia-Pacific gateway.

I want to follow up on my colleague from the Liberal Party's comment about the non-trade barriers. Could you elaborate on some of the informal barriers that might be a challenge within the present Japanese trade agreement, their trading system?

11:30 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

Basically, the non-tariff issues we would be addressing in I think three main areas of the agreement.

We would hope to have a chapter on technical barriers to trade, where we would hope to go beyond the commitments in the WTO agreement on technical barriers to trade.

In the agricultural sector, there are the sanitary and phytosanitary measures, where we would hope to have in the agreement a chapter that would lead to a robust consultation mechanism so that we have an ability to address those issues before they become irritants.

In the trade facilitation chapter, we would be addressing a wide range of issues that impede or block trade at the border, so a wide variety of border measures can be addressed through those mechanisms.

It's hard to get specific in terms of the measures we would be targeting in a negotiation. I mentioned that we would be needing to continue to consult with stakeholders, and one of the key objectives of doing that would be to work with industries to identify specific issues that have been a problem so that we can address them in the context of the negotiation. They vary from industry to industry.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

We don't have FIPA, do we?

11:35 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

No, we do not. Investment is another area where we would hope to have a significant benefit from having a comprehensive FTA.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

With a shared services and investment sector, who would be the biggest winners in Canada for that?

11:35 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

Investment is a real success story in both directions. Both Canada and Japan are extremely active in each other's market, and there are household names in terms of the major Japanese companies that are operating in Canada already: Honda, Toyota, Bridgestone, Canon, Fujitsu, and on and on. They're also increasingly active in the energy sector.

We both have advanced, predictable, stable legal systems, so the incremental benefit of having access to international arbitration between Japan and Canada may not be as great as it would be with a different partner, but the greater security that you have through a rules-based framework will provide an additional level of stability and security for investors seeking to go into those markets.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

I did the geneaology on the Cannan name, and unfortunately we're not related—different spelling. They're very successful.

I look forward to working together.

Thank you very much.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

I'm not sure the negotiators can do anything with that.

Mr. Sandhu, for five minutes.