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

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Thank you, Mr. Cannan.

With the limited time I have, I want to focus on Mr. Tiberghien.

I'm also from British Columbia. I'm from South Surrey—White Rock, and I'm a UBC graduate twice over.

I wanted to ask you a couple of technical questions. You seem to be very knowledgeable about the field. Australia started negotiations for an EPA back in 2007. They've had 15 rounds, and we've been told in this committee that they can't get past agriculture as a roadblock to completing that deal. If Australia can't get past agriculture, how could Canada?

12:25 p.m.

Prof. Yves Tiberghien

There must be one roadblock, and I'm trying to think which one it is.

Agriculture in Japan is very unequal. Some issues are very critical and will not move forward, and one is rice. Rice will be a big issue. I think Australia has some rice, so that would already be a killer.

Next would be anything about oranges, mandarins, and tea. There are certain products that are very politically sensitive. They are staples in a lot of parts of Japan. But canola is not, so canola is not an issue. Corn is almost not an issue.

Beef is more sensitive, that's correct, but it can be negotiated. In the case of beef, it's not so much that there are very powerful lobbies, because they don't produce that much beef. They produce a kind of beef, the Kobe beef, where they feed beer to the cows. It's tiny. They don't produce to the market. It's more about addressing the concerns of the public about health and that kind of thing. I think it's possible to work with partners there.

So in general, it's doable, I think.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

With respect to the opposition to the TPP within the Japanese Parliament you mentioned, do you think there's enough support among all parties in Japan for an EPA with Canada?

12:25 p.m.

Prof. Yves Tiberghien

What I was told by members of Parliament with whom I spoke last fall was that at this point, there is no major, targeted opposition to this EPA. First, there is no identified product that will be a major red flag. Second, Canada has a relatively positive image in Japan and doesn't carry all the baggage the U.S. carries.

There are a lot of people who think the U.S. is trying to use them against China or that they're trying to pull this.... Canada is seen as an honest broker.

I haven't been told of major targets of opposition. It's still the most feasible for Japan.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

The other issue we've heard about from previous witnesses is the issue related to Japan Post Insurance being 30% owned by the Japanese government. Having legislative advantages that just passed in April, do you think the government would be willing to level the playing field so that Canadian insurance providers would be able to compete? Are they that willing to come to a deal?

12:30 p.m.

Prof. Yves Tiberghien

The Post is a more sensitive issue. It's politically salient. It's probably more difficult.

Under Koizumi, in 2005, they went through a liberalization of the Post that would liberalize it for the private sector in Japan and also for international insurance companies. It just went backwards on that, in part because the current government is in coalition with a small party, led by Kamei Shizuka, that cares only about going backwards on the Post and holding the fort as it was in the past. A lot will depend, after the election, on whether the political lobby around the Post has weakened enough. That is probably more sensitive. It's up for negotiation, but I think it will be a more treacherous negotiation.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Now we'll move to Mr. Easter.

The floor is yours, sir.

May 29th, 2012 / 12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome to all the witnesses. It's always especially great to have some Islanders at the table, Minister Roach.

I can certainly attest to the importance of the Japanese market to Prince Edward Island, Mr. Chair, but I couldn't help thinking when—

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

The red hair.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

No. Well, the red hair is important, but I couldn't help but think, when the minister was going through the numbers, that some of you guys from the west would think these numbers are awfully small in terms of our exports of canola. However, on the ground in Prince Edward Island it creates a lot of stability for quite a number of producers.

Al, you talked about the difference in the numbers, the stats that are coming out that kind of show that we're.... We know we're exporting more product than we are, especially in the fisheries area. I expect it's because we have to transship either out of New York or out of Halifax, because there's no cargo space in the aircraft coming out of P.E.I. to carry it.

Could you expand on that? Is there anything in a trade agreement that we need to be...? I guess it can't be in the trade agreement, but is there anything on the ground that we need to be doing to perhaps ship more directly from Prince Edward Island, especially in terms of tuna? Tuna is huge.

12:30 p.m.

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

Allen F. Roach

I think one area we need to look at, certainly for the Atlantic region, is our need to have a hub for shipping that's specific to Atlantic Canada—I've had conversations with the minister of ACOA in this respect—so that we could take whatever the goods are, whether tuna or blueberries, mussels, or whatever the case may be, and co-pack them and have all that in one hub. These are things we have to certainly look at.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Basically, you're saying on the ground. It's one thing in terms of a comprehensive economic agreement with Japan, but there are other things that need to be done jointly or cooperatively between the Atlantic provinces and the federal government to make it possible for us to take advantage of that market.

12:30 p.m.

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

Allen F. Roach

Absolutely, yes.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

That may be something we need to consider.

You also said there are huge opportunities. Is that what you mean by co-packing—

12:30 p.m.

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