Evidence of meeting #39 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

  • Allen F. Roach  Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, Government of Prince Edward Island
  • Brad Wildeman  Chairman, Canada Beef Inc.
  • Yves Tiberghien  Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia, As an Individual

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

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

This is just a comment more than anything else, but part of that discussion needs to be that agriculture trade from Japan to Canada and Canada to Japan is really complementary. You mentioned that earlier.

12:40 p.m.

Prof. Yves Tiberghien

That is right.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

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

We're not competing on rice, we're not competing on oranges. We complement one another in a number of areas.

The next issue I want to focus on a little bit is seafood coming out of P.E.I., Atlantic Canada, and British Columbia.

One issue we face in Nova Scotia is that we had a number of exporters—I think we used to have about 25 exporters—who focused primarily on the Japanese market, particularly in lobster, and there are only two left. Quite frankly, we're being snookered by most of the American states, Rhode Island in particular, on that two-pound to two-and-a-half-pound lobster being shipped out of Atlantic Canada into the U.S. It’s repackaged as a U.S. brand and shipped into Japan because of PSP, paralytic shellfish poisoning. The reality is that the Americans have a higher level of PSP than we do in Canada. We have colder water and less PSP, but the Americans have a trade agreement that allows them to accept one another's regulatory regimes.

That's a non-tariff trade barrier, affecting us in a major way, that we've simply not been able to resolve. We're working on it, but part of that also becomes marketing, and everyone has talked about the marketing idea.

I was in Japan on Friday and Saturday for trade meetings and then spent a week with our inter-parliamentary group. One thing the Japanese talked about, the seafood importers in particular, was branding. They love the idea. The Japanese flag is red and white, the Canadian flag is red and white, and the maple leaf is recognized wherever you go. They said it should be on every product that comes into Japan. Often it is, but not necessarily. Whether it's beef or seafood, wherever it's coming from in Canada, what can we do to advertise that red maple leaf on that white background?

12:45 p.m.

Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, Government of Prince Edward Island

Allen F. Roach

That certainly was a major part of my discussions this past spring when I was at the Boston Seafood Show. I met with many producers and processors down there, and we had some very strong conversations around that branding. Of course, some of it came back to whether it was a P.E.I. branding, in terms of product coming from P.E.I. or Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, but certainly the Canadian branding. I agree with you that red and white flag carries everywhere quite well. I think that's a very important issue for us.

When we take lobsters out of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick that are from much colder waters, a much better product, and they're being sold—

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

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

They’re hard shell.

12:45 p.m.

Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, Government of Prince Edward Island

Allen F. Roach

A good point is the hard shell versus the soft shell. A lot of our product that we sell—and you know Nova Scotia and the difficulties they have around the sale of lobster—is that purchasers, buyers, automatically say it's a soft-shell lobster. Well, most of the lobster, pretty well all the lobster, that comes out of eastern Canada is hard shell and was being sold as soft shell. That hurts us greatly. We need strong branding of our product. That certainly will put the value in our product that should be there.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you.

Your time is gone.

We're headed into the second round.

I want to let the committee members know that on our agenda we had a little bit of time for business. We'll do that on Thursday.

We'll go right to one o'clock with our witnesses.

Mr. Sandhu, you have five minutes. Go ahead.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Thank you.

Professor Tiberghien, I want to follow up on my colleague's question regarding a trade deficit that has ballooned over the last six years, especially in manufactured goods. We've seen hundreds and thousands of jobs being lost in Canada over the last number of years.

What is wrong with our trade policy? How can we reduce that structural trade deficit in manufactured goods? What can we learn from our experience that we can negotiate in the new agreements with other countries?

12:45 p.m.

Prof. Yves Tiberghien

This is always a difficult question. There's no magic recipe. What we seem to see from some countries that are quite successful with this, that manage to keep a strong manufacturing base even with high labour costs, say Japan, or Korea, actually, is they keep moving upwards in the value chain.

The key for a country like Canada is to complement the resource and the commodity base, which is still a great asset, with more developments in industries of tomorrow, knowledge-based industries. That can be done by joint investment with companies from Asia in particular, where growth is. It can be done with a bit more industrial policy.

If you look at what's working in Asia, in Korea or Japan or Singapore, there is a bit of industrial policy there that's sometimes successful—often successful. It would be seed money for R and D, making sure we invest a lot in innovation in R and D, etc., to develop a base beyond the traditional manufacturing base. It's sort of natural in a global division of labour that the number of jobs in auto manufacturing will not go up. They may go down gradually a little bit. What matters is to create other manufacturing and high-value jobs in other industries, the next wave of industry.

I guess this means having strong universities, strong research, a strong innovation base that can then span out, and then good laws and policies that encourage venture capital and innovative companies. I think that's the highway. Then there's being a key player, a very network player, with a lot of partners, not just attached to the U.S. economy, but developing a lot of alternatives, both east and west, particularly where the economies are rising, that is in East Asia and India.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

You talked about having more students in our universities, especially foreign students, and I see the P.E.I. group here is also wanting to attract foreign students to our universities.

My understanding is there have been cuts to consular services in Tokyo that provide information and visa applications for students. I'll ask Minister Roach what sort of impact would that have on us attracting students if the consular services are being cut.

12:50 p.m.

Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, Government of Prince Edward Island

Allen F. Roach

Certainly, and I think we pointed it out in our testimony, in order for us to bring those students here, that has to be open, it has to be transparent, and it has to be...I won't say quick, but there has to be a good flow in order for that to happen. We certainly would want to see that. If there are cuts, I think that would have an impact.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Would you say we have a transparent process and a relatively quick process the way it's set up right now?

12:50 p.m.

Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning, Government of Prince Edward Island

Allen F. Roach

In terms of students, the process there now seems to work well. We just have to work with it more and certainly have a better understanding of what the Japanese government has in terms of allowing that to happen and in working with them.

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Do I have a little bit of time?

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

One very quick one.