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 japan.

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

12:15 p.m.

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

Ian Burney

I will ask my colleague Denis Landreville to answer your question.

12:15 p.m.

Lead Negotiator, Regional Agreements, Trade Negotiations Division, Trade Agreements and Negotiations Directorate, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Denis Landreville

In the agricultural sector, I would say that in the framework of our bilateral relationship, most phytosanitary provisions are, for now, on the Japanese side. There is nothing on the phytosanitary side in agriculture on the Japanese side. The current sanitary and phytosanitary issues in agriculture are mainly on the Canadian side.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

So we are the ones who have requirements of Japan. Is that what you are saying?

12:20 p.m.

Lead Negotiator, Regional Agreements, Trade Negotiations Division, Trade Agreements and Negotiations Directorate, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Denis Landreville

I am saying that, for now, issues under discussion are mainly on the Canadian side as far as Japan is concerned with regard to access. However, I believe that both Japan and Canada would like to see general principles and provisions included in an agreement to implement a process to address these types of issues. This would mean including a chapter on these issues.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

In your presentation, you said that Canada and Japan would like to sign an agreement which would include the rigorous environmental and labour standards that already exist in both countries.

When you refer to rigorous environmental standards, what exactly do you mean as far as Canada is concerned? Canada does not want to be part of the Kyoto Protocol anymore, and in its budget it has reduced to one the number of environmental assessments. In fact, it used to be that there was both a provincial environmental assessment and a federal one. So when you talk about Canada's environmental requirements, are you referring to the standards which currently exist, which will exist in the future, or which were in effect previously?

12:20 p.m.

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

Ian Burney

It is not quite clear yet what we will be able to negotiate with Japan under a free trade agreement. Canada and Japan both have very high environmental standards, but it is not clear yet whether we will have the same approach in the context of a free trade agreement. That is one of the things we will have to clarify with the Japanese, and that will probably happen at the beginning of the process.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

This will happen before discussions.

12:20 p.m.

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

Ian Burney

Discussions have already begun under the framework of the joint study, but now they must continue, because we have to decide whether there will be a parallel agreement on the environment. This is what we have done in the past, but not the Japanese. They usually do not have parallel agreements on the environment in their free trade agreements.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Regarding labour practices, perhaps it was different in the past, but today the Japanese work and operate in a very efficient manner. Just think of their subway system. What they have achieved is truly impressive. What aspects, such as issues affecting unions, could be included in a parallel accord to a free trade agreement?

12:20 p.m.

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

Ian Burney

The answer is similar to the one I gave you regarding the environment. Our approach in free trade agreements is a little bit different, but we will work with Japan, from an international point of view, on matters concerning the protection of workers. In that regard, we do not have any concerns regarding working conditions in Japan. We will have to determine which approach will work best in the context of a free trade agreement. That's not clear yet. Canada usually signs parallel accords, but this has not been Japan's approach in its own free trade agreements.

Denis, did you want to add anything?

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Keddy will finish off the questioning, and then we will go into an in camera session.

May 1st, 2012 / 12:20 p.m.

Conservative

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

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Unfortunately, I missed part of your discussion. I hope I don't repeat anything my colleagues have already said.

I do have a couple of issues I think we need to take a little closer look at here. This is an ambitious agreement, with a fairly high level of ambition from us and--for the first time, it looks like--from the Japanese.

There a couple of issues where we have a good relationship with Japan, and I'm wondering if we can't use those to our advantage. I want to go back to the fishery for a bit. Japan has been a very useful ally at the international commission on Atlantic tuna, at the ICCAT meetings. If it weren't for Japan agreeing to take Canadian tuna—we export the majority of our tuna to Japan—the Americans, the Spaniards, and the Portuguese, who constantly snooker us on tuna, in my opinion, would have all the quota. They wanted to pass a law at the last ICCAT meeting that 90% of the tuna caught had to be consumed domestically in the country that catches it. That's great for those nations that consume more tuna than we do, but we probably have a more efficient fleet and a more conservation-minded fleet.

So I think those things shouldn't be forgotten when we're talking to the Japanese, because we do supply the majority of their tuna and we have an ally there.

The bilateral access on sub-national procurement--I'd like you to go back over that for a moment. The new agreement at the WTO and the maximum and minimum levels--I'd like for you to reaffirm those. Is it still, on infrastructure, $8.5 million, and $370,000 on the smaller level for services? What's the number?

12:25 p.m.

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

Ian Burney

In a previous incarnation, Dany was our procurement lead. She's saying that sounds right, but that's from memory; she wouldn't want to swear to it.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

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

Okay. I don't want to say mine's right either, but it's close.

12:25 p.m.

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

Ian Burney

Yes, it's ballpark.