Evidence of meeting #44 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

  • Steve Verheul  Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Ray Armbruster  Director and President, Manitoba Beef Producers
  • Cam Dahl  General Manager, Manitoba Beef Producers
  • Gordon Bacon  Chief Executive Officer, Pulse Canada

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Thanks.

Just to clarify, Mr. Davies talked about water. Water is not on the table.

11:55 a.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

No. We've been very clear that...and we will have provisions in the agreement that will specify that there will be no rights to water in its natural state. There will be no requirement to privatize water or any of that type of thing.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

With regard to our trade situation with the EU right now, what's our trade balance?

11:55 a.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

Our trade balance is slightly in favour of the European Union. Given the size of the markets, we tend to do fairly well, given that their economy is some 15 times greater than ours.

When it comes to current trade levels, in 2011 we exported about $40 billion worth of exports in trade, and imported about $52 billion. So it's not that far off of a balance considering the different size in the market.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

You're cautiously optimistic that this agreement will push us towards a more balanced or positive direction?

11:55 a.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

Well, we'll certainly be exporting a significant amount more. Whether that will put us in a different position or not remains to be seen, but I think if we're importing more products of good quality from the European Union that we're getting at a good price, then I think that helps our economy too.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

As you said, a good balance....

There was one concern when we were over there a couple years ago meeting with the parliamentarians. Maybe you can clarify the ratification process. So you're meeting in September or October and you come to an agreement then. How does that unfold with the parliamentarians and the ratification process? Can you enlighten us on that, please?

11:55 a.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

Sure. It's a fairly simple process in Canada. It's much more complicated in the European Union.

After we complete the negotiations and both negotiators have signed off as saying the negotiations have now ended, the first thing that happens is that it will have to be put through a process of legal scrubbing to ensure that the language we've negotiated is legally consistent throughout the agreement. Then there will be a period of having to translate the agreement into 22 languages within the European Union, which will take a considerable amount of time as well.

Then, once we do have that final agreement, it will go through the process of getting agreement within the Council of the European Union. It will also have to get agreement within the European Parliament and then, to the extent that this is a mixed agreement, as they put it, which includes areas under competence of both the European Union and the member states, it would eventually have to go to individual member state ratification.

Just to clarify that, traditionally the European Union will provisionally apply the results of the agreement while member states are going through the process of ratification, because most of the elements in the trade agreement will be under European Union competence, whether it's tariffs or whether it's most of the services and investment provisions. So 99% of the agreement could be put into place far earlier.

June 19th, 2012 / 11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

There's still a lot of opportunity for discussions and collaboration, I know. I compliment Hon. Ed Fast and Parliamentary Secretary Keddy for involving municipalities. I was nine years in local government, and this is the first time that local governments and the provinces have been consulted to this extent. I applaud that leadership initiative and inclusiveness.

Just to clarify, then, there will still be plenty of time once the negotiations are finalized to get the message out and communicate and dialogue with Canadians about the process before it's ratified by parties.

11:55 a.m.

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

Yes, absolutely, and I've been spending quite a bit of time myself with municipalities as well, with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I keep them regularly informed on the outcome of our discussions. I've been to a number of meetings with Minister Fast to meet municipal representatives.

I think your scenario is exactly right. Once the agreement is concluded, we will have a considerable amount of time to prepare Canadians for the changes that will come with that agreement, both with respect to areas like those you've mentioned with the municipalities in educating them on any particular changes they might have to make when it comes to the impact of the agreement, as well as, just as importantly, ensuring that Canadian exporters are ready to start taking advantage of the provisions in the agreement that will give them far greater access to the European Union than most other countries.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

There are two things that I hear very loudly as I dialogue with Canadians and business people. Those are, number one, how important the CETA is to Canada, and number two, how fortunate we are to have you at the helm of negotiations, you and your team.

I want to thank you for being here to bring us up to date. We wish you all the best in concluding this agreement by the end of the year. With that, I want to thank you very much for coming to committee.

Noon

Chief Trade Negotiator, Canada-European Union, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Steve Verheul

Thank you very much.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

With that, we'll suspend until we set up the next set of panels.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

I'd like to call the meeting back to order.

I will just let the committee know that we need to move in camera at the end of the meeting for five to ten minutes to discuss some future business, but right now I want to welcome our witnesses.

From Pulse Canada, we have Mr. Gordon Bacon, chief executive officer. By video conference, we have the Manitoba Beef Producers, with Ray Armbruster, Cam Dahl, and Lauren Stone.

Can you hear us okay?

Noon

Ray Armbruster Director and President, Manitoba Beef Producers

We can.