Evidence of meeting #41 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

  • Ken Ilasz  Owner, Boulanger Bassin Bed and Breakfast
  • John Tak  Vice-President, International Business, Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc.
  • Dana Hayden  Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia
  • Henry Van Ankum  Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario
  • Erin Fletcher  Manager, Public Affairs and Communication, Grain Farmers of Ontario

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Okay.

I think my time is up. I didn't get a chance to talk to Ms. Hayden, but maybe another time.

Thank you.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you, Mr. Shipley.

Now we'll move to Mr. Sandhu, for five minutes, second round.

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Thank you to both of the witnesses.

I'm from British Columbia, so I will talk to Ms. Hayden about some of the issues that are very important to the coastal communities.

Over the years we've had issues with mad cow disease, where we've seen, overnight, the beef industry, cattle industry, devastated in regard to shipping their goods out to Korea and Japan and other parts of the world.

Being from British Columbia, the coastal communities, we have many communities along the coast that depend on fishing, and also other seafood products that we export to South Asian countries. Lately, we've had issues around sea lice in farmed salmon.

Ms. Hayden, could you maybe tell us what impact that would have, considering that we've heard in the committee here that the Japanese expect very high-quality products? If that sea lice somehow gets into our commercial wild salmon or other seafood products, what impact would that have on our ability to trade those goods with Japan?

12:45 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

I'm not sure exactly what the impact would be. The issue with sea lice is that it is purported to present a risk to other seafood living in the general area of fish farms where there may be sea lice. Once the fish are processed, I don't think there is an issue with the sea lice in terms of an export product. The barriers that we see in front of us now for seafood exports to Japan are primarily tariff-based. For example, there's a tariff of 3.5% on salmon and tariffs on frozen fish from Canada range from 2% to 6%. So right now we see the issues as primarily tariff-based.

We export a fairly broad range of seafood products from British Columbia that British Columbians aren't actually a huge fan of. Sea urchins, sea cucumbers, these are fish and seafood products that are quite popular in Japan and less popular in Canada, simply because of our culinary preferences. Our belief at this point in time, without the extensive consultations that we might have had with stakeholders in B.C., is that the issues are primarily tariff-based on the seafood side.

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

We've heard over the last month or so from various groups that we have a large trade deficit in regard to us shipping raw materials or semi-processed materials, whereas Japan is shipping us manufactured goods. Would you see that trade deficit in manufactured goods increase or decrease with the agreement that's being negotiated?

12:45 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

Whether or not a trade agreement would increase manufacturing capability in British Columbia would depend entirely on the nature of the product and the competitive conditions in Japan versus Canada. It's quite difficult. I don't know how quite to answer your question, if you're talking about all products. Is there a particular product that you're thinking of?

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Would you say that it also depends on government policy in regard to either shrinking that deficit or expanding it? We heard earlier today that Japan, China, South Korea have a very succinct industrial policy with regard to having more manufactured goods leaving their country than they import. Would government policy have an impact on what kinds of products we ship out to those countries?

12:45 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

Certainly, if governments chose, for example, to invest capital or invest operating dollars in operations to assist the competitiveness of those operations in their home country, that could obviously create a different sort of balance in terms of the competitive situation. The Government of British Columbia over some years, since 2001, has had a policy of not subsidizing businesses, not picking winners and losers, not doing that.

I would say generally, however, reducing tariffs in a market where we are trying to export improves the competitiveness of the domestic industry and would allow for greater value-added production in British Columbia or Canada. Reducing tariffs reduces the cost framework within which any producer is operating, therefore it would give them a better opportunity to increase the value-added product in their home province or country.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Now we want to welcome Mr. Menegakis to the committee.

The floor is yours for five minutes.

June 5th, 2012 / 12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank our witnesses for appearing before us today. I certainly found their testimony, as well as the responses to the questions so far, very informative.

Ms. Hayden, I'd like to start with you. You gave us a few very interesting statistics. You mentioned that 50% of Japanese Canadians live in British Columbia, and I think you mentioned that about 50% of Japanese visitors to Canada spend their time in beautiful British Columbia.

But I was really struck with your comments that were supportive of expanding our trade with Asian countries. You mentioned China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, amongst others. Also, it was particularly interesting to hear that the premier's recent visit to Japan yielded 25 agreements totalling business in excess of half a billion dollars.

I guess what I'd like to add is that on a very recent visit of our Prime Minister to China—and I had the privilege of being on that delegation—to add to the 25 agreements that were signed in Japan, 23 agreements were signed in China, overseen by our Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast, totalling some $3 billion in GDP to Canada. So it is abundantly obvious that for Canada our trading with the Asian market is a big potential plus for us.

I'm just wondering if you've done an analysis of or have a handle on perhaps a dollar figure of what it would mean for British Columbia should an economic trade agreement be signed with Japan.

12:50 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

We have not done any modelling provincially to allow us to come to such a number. We do intend to do that analysis now that Canada has announced its intention to advance the negotiations. I don't have a particular B.C.-specific benefit number. We've looked at the federal government's analysis. We know in general what the benefit is for Canada, as described.

We do think, though, that British Columbia, as Canada's gateway to Asia, is very interested in the Asian economies generally, so we're very interested in India, in China, in Japan, and in South Korea, to name four primary ones. While we haven't done the economic analysis with respect to an agreement with Japan per se, we are very interested in the Government of Canada establishing trade agreements in Asia, because we think that by waiting as long as we have to enter into negotiations with Asian countries, we have lost an advantage that the U.S. and other countries have obtained.

Often, the first agreement signed, or the first relationship, gives a competitive advantage to those other countries that we feel we have been losing ground to, so notwithstanding the fact that we haven't done an economic analysis specific to Japan, we're very interested in the India trade negotiations. We're very interested in Japan. We'd very much like to see Canada enter into negotiations with China because of the strategic importance of any one of those agreements in terms of advancing Canada's opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you.

As you might know, along those lines, we did sign an historic agreement, a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, or FIPA, with China in February, so I think the willingness on behalf of the Asian countries to do business with Canada is certainly there, and they've demonstrated that repeatedly.

12:50 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

I think so.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON

But I want to commend you and the good province of British Columbia for the leadership role you are playing in helping us promote Canada abroad, specifically to Asia.

How is my time, Mr. Chairman?

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

I think you're pretty well there.