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

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Tak, is this your experience as well, that the Japanese are not keen to have contracts?

11:45 a.m.

Vice-President, International Business, Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc.

John Tak

There are different sectors, and from what I see in this sector that's what's happening. But no, all our business is with contracts, with purchase orders that lay out everything.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Arbitration processes...?

11:45 a.m.

Vice-President, International Business, Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc.

John Tak

Well, if it's going to be a distribution agreement, then yes, we'll have that all laid out, or single purchases. It depends what it is.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Conflict resolution...?

11:45 a.m.

Vice-President, International Business, Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc.

John Tak

Yes, it's all laid out.

June 5th, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Okay.

Shifting to the comments that were made about non-tariff barriers and your suggestion that they don't really exist, or perhaps, they're more cultural, we've had a couple of witnesses before us tell us that the Japanese have non-tariff barriers in the form of preferential handling, regulatory unpredictability, costly certification, small-volume approval processes—all these non-tariff barriers—that make it very risky and expensive to export to Japan.

Can you elaborate on your comments, because it really contradicts the other testimony we've received?

11:45 a.m.

Vice-President, International Business, Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc.

John Tak

Right, and I hope I didn't say there are no non-tariff barriers. I hope I said there are fewer than people may think.

Yes, in certain cases there are non-tariff barriers where the procedures are more complex and can be interpreted to be preventing imports, unless you look around and ask whether everybody else has to go through those procedures domestically. Are they only being set up to prevent foreign goods from coming in, or is that how the Japanese do business? In many cases it's how they do business.

To me, a non-tariff barrier is something that's being used to prevent imports from getting in and to protect domestic suppliers, and that other domestic suppliers aren't being required to do. You have to be very careful to analyze that and understand it. But in some cases, yes, there are blatant non-tariff barriers. I'm not saying they don't exist, but they're not—

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Have you found in your industry, in the natural health products industry, that there are domestic competitors that have more flexibility or fewer restrictions than you face?

11:50 a.m.

Vice-President, International Business, Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc.

John Tak

We're not finding that, other than this import tariff that we're having to pay that raises the cost of our product.

As a matter of fact, we have beaten out a couple of American competitors by going into the health authorities and registering our own products. We've hired a consultant. We have registered our products, so when we start selling them to a pharmacy or a distributor somewhere, it's very hard for them to get rid of us because we've actually registered the product, and if they go to the American company, they don't know how to do it.

It's a complex registration process, but it's the same for all Japanese. It's simply that you need to take the time, so we did. We said, “Okay, let's hire somebody. Let's figure it out, and let's do our own registrations”. Now we are actually getting into stores, because we can go now and say, “Oh, don't worry, we have registered this. All you have to do is buy it. We have inventory here. We have it in the country. It's the same as if you were buying from a Japanese company.” That's what the retailers want. They don't want complications.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

I want to thank you very much, Mr. Tak and Mr. Ilasz, for the great testimony and great questions. I believe you've helped our committee get a better grasp of a situation, a potential, that is there for an economic partnership agreement with Japan.

With that we'll suspend and set up for our teleconference in our next segment.

Perhaps we'll be able to try some of Mr. Ilasz's—

11:50 a.m.

Owner, Boulanger Bassin Bed and Breakfast

Ken Ilasz

There you go.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

He has us actually intrigued with what kind of a product he's selling. With that we'll suspend.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

I would ask members to take their seats and we'll call the meeting back to order.

We'll start our second hour of presenters as well as questions and answers. With us, I believe, both by video conference, we have from the Government of British Columbia, Dana Hayden, deputy minister from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Innovation.

Dana can you hear us?

11:55 a.m.

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

Yes, I can hear you, thank you.