Evidence of meeting #36 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 industry.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Andrew Casey  Vice-President, Public Affairs and International Trade, Forest Products Association of Canada
  • Bob Kirke  Executive Director, Canadian Apparel Federation
  • David Worts  Executive Director, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association of Canada
  • Kathleen Sullivan  Executive Director, Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

So you have made some financial estimates, but just not a full-bore study.

11:20 a.m.

Vice-President, Public Affairs and International Trade, Forest Products Association of Canada

Andrew Casey

That's right. Yes.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

What about you, Mr. Kirke. Has your organization done a study you could share with the committee about the benefits of an EPA with Japan?

11:20 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Apparel Federation

Bob Kirke

No, we haven't. We have had some missions previously to Japan.

Just to echo the comment before, the duties are up to 13%, so you're talking about millions of dollars coming off in trade. But no, we haven't done a study.

I think the key is that there are a lot of fairly high-end goods that are made in Canada still and will continue to be. They can fit anywhere in the world. You can sell a Canada Goose parka, God help me, in Australia.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Say it ain't so.

11:20 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Apparel Federation

Bob Kirke

Tasmania is the launching point for our Antarctic research.

We're going away from a commodity industry where you can say x amount will go. This just opens up another decent market by allowing us good access.

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Thank you.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Cannan.

May 10th, 2012 / 11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to our witnesses. It's always great to have you here, consulting with our stakeholders across the country, as we continue to open new markets for our Canadian businesses.

As you know, this has $3.8 billion in potential economic opportunities, some multi-billion dollar bilateral trade opportunities, for both countries. Japan is our fifth largest trading partner and we want to continue to expand and grow that.

Coming from British Columbia, like Mr. Davies, I know the forest industry is a big economic generator. COFI, the Council of Forest Industries, had a conference in my riding last month and the provincial Minister of Forests, Steve Thomson, spoke there. You're correct about the raw log policy being a provincial one; it is. Another big economic generator is the wine industry, and blended wines are another component of keeping wineries economically viable. It's the same thing with raw logs. It's part of the economic mix, so I think it's important to keep that in the context of the jobs that it maintains and the economic bottom line.

Mr. Casey, I agree with the rules-based transparent trade relationship that we want to establish and continue to grow. If we're able to remove those regulations, what kind of value-added opportunities do you see for the forest sector?

11:25 a.m.

Vice-President, Public Affairs and International Trade, Forest Products Association of Canada

Andrew Casey

If I take your question and move back toward that raw log, how can we move up the value chain in some respects?

I think the one challenge with Japan is that it is a mature marketplace in the sense that they know how to build with wood, they know they're using the best kinds of wood we have. Beyond the premium grade, J-grade lumber, that we're sending there and some of the panels, if we can get more of the panels going there, the structural types of lumbers, the Parallams and those types of engineered woods, I think it would be hugely helpful.

That part of the industry is growing considerably, and certainly in British Columbia it's a big play. As they're already building with wood, as they build larger structures with wood, those types of materials become more important.

The other part of the question, even though you didn't ask it directly, if you might allow me to answer it, is the regional aspect to this. You're correct in pointing out that this represents a very important opportunity for B.C. producers. There is no doubt about it. This is probably where the bulk of that product is going to come from: British Columbia.

I think the important part of that, though, is that this is a global pie, and when production leaves to go there, there is only so much of it. So if B.C. starts to ship a greater percentage of its overall production to Japan, that's going to open up market space elsewhere. While it does directly benefit the B.C. producers, the east coast producers are going to benefit because the B.C. guys are going to leave the U.S. marketplace or the European marketplace, and that will allow the east coast guys to move in.

While it does have that direct benefit, there is a broader reach to this deal as well.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Expanding on that—and I appreciate the fact that Mr. Hiebert is from British Columbia as well—our government is focused on creating jobs and growing the economy and long-term prosperity, not just in British Columbia. Maybe you can expand on how this is going to benefit Ontario, Quebec, and other sectors of our country, creating jobs, well-paying jobs as well, and helping families.

11:25 a.m.

Vice-President, Public Affairs and International Trade, Forest Products Association of Canada

Andrew Casey

Absolutely. As I said in my opening remarks, we're an export based industry, and so we're shipping well over $25 billion of our product outside the country every year. The big export producers are right across the country, from B.C. right out to the east coast.

As I said, this is a global marketplace and there's only so much supply out there, and certainly we're seeing a constriction of supply as a result of things like the pine beetle in British Columbia and Alberta.

When supply does shift and go to different marketplaces when new markets open up, that opens up other parts of the country to move into those vacancies and fill the voids. Anything that moves from British Columbia to Japan, China, and India, because those markets are easier for the B.C. producers to get to, opens up opportunity for the east coast as well, because they'll just move in and fill the vacuum.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Our thoughts and prayers are still with the Japanese families after the devastating earthquake a little over a year ago. Debris is showing up on the west coast of British Columbia today. What role is the forest sector playing to help rebuild the Japanese economy and help the families in Japan?

I know you've been very philanthropic, and maybe you can share with the committee on that.

11:25 a.m.

Vice-President, Public Affairs and International Trade, Forest Products Association of Canada

Andrew Casey

Absolutely.

A number of the companies have helped by sending lumber, and there's certainly been a partnership with the Canadian government as well. It has helped significantly with some money to help them rebuild.

A lot of it is relationship building. We've had a relationship, as I've said, for the more than 40 years we've been in the country, and so there are some significant commercial relationships and partnerships there already. The industry has been able to make good on those friendships in a time of crisis for them, and hopefully that does help them at this time.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Relationships are a big component of doing business with Asia, and I refer to your opening comments about bilateral trade and its importance to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.