House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was wto.

Topics

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 103 and 106.

Question No. 103—
Routine Proceedings

February 27th, 2002 / 3:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Regarding religious references at events organized by the government: ( a ) has the government issued directives or other policy guidelines with regard to the use of prayers at such events; ( b ) have instructions been given by the Military to the Armed Forces Chaplains with regards to the removal of the terms “God”, “Jesus”, “Christian”, or other expression for the deity; and ( c ) if so under what authority?

Question No. 103—
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

I am informed by the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Department of National Defence as follows:

In response to (a), the government has not issued directives or other policy guidelines with regard to the use of prayers at government organized events.

However, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, employees of different faiths have the right to freedom of religion.

In response to (b), neither the Department of National Defence nor the Canadian forces have directed military chaplains to refrain from using the terms “God,” “Jesus,” “Christian” or any other expression for the deity. The policy on public prayer services for the Canadian Forces Chaplain Branch was approved by the Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy, and follows the guidelines of the Canadian Council of Churches on “Religious Ceremonies Involving More than One Faith Tradition”. The Policy is:

“Within the context of voluntary worship, either within a chapel or a field service or on board ship, chaplains are free to lead Christian worship according to their denominational tradition within the established practice of CF Roman Catholic or Protestant Chapels. Likewise in the context of ecumenical or interfaith worship where a number of religious leaders are participating, chaplains may conduct themselves in accordance with their denominational tradition.

Within the context of a public ceremony where the chaplain is the sole representative of all faith groups and where various faith groups and a wide range of beliefs are likely to exist, normally prayers should be inclusive in nature respecting the wide range of faith groups and believers who may be present. The religious celebrant is encouraged to be sensitive in the use of specific sacred faith formulas to allow for greater inclusivity.”

The policy encourages chaplains of the Canadian forces to respect the wide range of faith groups present at public services and be inclusive in the common expression of prayer. Nowhere does it admonish its chaplains to refrain from using expressions of prayer.

In response to (c) this is not applicable.

Question No. 106—
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

What was the total amount spent in Canadian dollars by each Canadian embassy and consulate on wine products for the years 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000; and, for each year, what was the amount spent on: ( a ) Canadian produced wine and ( b ) foreign produced wine?

Question No. 106—
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

The financial management information system currently in use by the department is not programmed to identify wine product expenses.

Question No. 106—
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 106—
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The questions enumerated by the hon. parliamentary secretary have been answered. Is it agreed that the remaining questions stand?

Question No. 106—
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Halifax West
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-35 in the name of the hon. member for Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore?

Motion No. P-35

That an order of the House do issue for copies of all documentation, including reports, minutes of meetings, notes, e-mail, memos and correspondence since 1997 within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade pertaining to the Tulsequah Chief Mine.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, considering the number of documents to be dealt with and translated, this would cost too much and take too long. Therefore I ask the hon. member to withdraw his motion.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

In that case, the motion is transferred for debate.

(Motion transferred for debate)

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

moved that Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address the House today on Bill C-50, the legislation that will allow Canada to enjoy all of the advantages of China's accession to the World Trade Organization. Before I address the legislation directly, I would like to make some mention of the extraordinary events that took place in Doha, Qatar.

As you know, on November 14 of last year, Canada and 141 other members of the World Trade Organization, WTO, agreed to launch a new round of international trade negotiations.

I am very proud to say that Canada honestly met all its objectives in Doha. We met our objectives. The program of negotiations which will take place over the next three years will be advantageous to Canadians and to our economy. I am particularly pleased with the substantial progress made with respect to development, one of Canada's main objectives.

In fact, we got this point across so well that the new round has been called the Doha development program. This show of unity illustrates the desire of all members to take into consideration the interests of developing countries and to act accordingly.

But even though Doha was a great success, we must not forget that it only marked the launch of negotiations. The real work is beginning; it will take place over the next three years. I wish to assure the House that, as negotiations advance, Canada will remain transparent and open, both domestically and with its WTO partners.

Needless to say, the accession of China to the WTO is important on many levels. The WTO has just admitted the seventh largest economy in the world, one whose GDP was $1.5 trillion in 2000. The ninth largest exporter in the world, with 3.5% of total world exports in 1999, has now joined the international trade system. A country of 1.3 billion inhabitants—one fifth of the world's population— has now become a member of the rule-based world trade system.

The WTO is an important global institution. It helps to set rules for international trade and to resolve disputes which arise between trading partners. But without China, a major and dynamic economy, the WTO was incomplete. With China's accession to the WTO, the trade system now makes more sense. But many might still wonder what it means for us as Canadians.

On a broad level, China's membership in the WTO confirms Canada's important position in both Canadian and international trade. China has officially accepted the WTO's internationally negotiated rights and obligations concerning the administration of international trade, including the fundamental principles of national and most favoured nation treatment, the settlement of trade disputes, and the continued liberalization of international trade.

In terms of market access for goods and services, the implications are significant, especially in the services sector. With respect to goods, today's accession means immediate and permanent tariff cuts on industrial and agricultural products. For industrial goods, upon accession tariffs will decrease in stages, such that by 2010 they will be roughly half of what they were in 1999. This is quite significant for our producers. Similarly, the simple average of tariffs on agricultural and agrifood imports into China will fall significantly by 2005. Indeed, for products in several other sectors tariffs will be eliminated completely.

China's services sector has traditionally been heavily regulated and protected and consequently has had minimal foreign participation. In this area, then, China's WTO membership heralds dramatic changes. All important services sectors will be opened to foreign investment with, in many cases, majority foreign ownership permitted within two to three years and, in some areas, wholly foreign owned subsidiaries within two to five years.

New market access conditions, changes in regulations and strengthened intellectual property rights will assure increased transparency and equality for Canadian commercial interests in all sectors in China, including insurance, telecommunications and banking.

In addition to the tariff cuts on agricultural and agrifood products I mentioned earlier, there will be other significant modifications to China's current quota system. To become WTO compliant, China's current import quota system is to be replaced by a system of tariff rate quotas, TRQs. The purpose of TRQs is to ensure that foreign exporters have access to a predictable, minimum share of an importer's market for goods. Under a TRQ, imports from any exporting country up to a fixed quota level enter at a relatively low tariff rate. A higher tariff is levied on any imports over this quantity.

China will eliminate quotas that currently apply to barley, soybeans, rapeseed or canola, peanut oil, sunflower seed oil, corn oil and cottonseed oil and subject them only to tariffs. The remaining existing quotas will be replaced with TRQs on agricultural products such as wheat, corn, rice, soybean oil, palm oil, rapeseed or canola oil, sugar, wool and cotton.

Another change will be that state trading entities that have monopoly import status on a number of commodities in China will have their privileges reduced or eliminated, effective today. China is committed to allowing prices for traded goods and services in every sector to be determined by market forces and multi-tier pricing practices for such goods and services will be eliminated.

Finally, I would like to touch on the implications for Canada's wholesale distributors. Within one year foreign service suppliers may establish joint ventures to engage in wholesale distribution of all imported and domestically produced products, with some exceptions. Majority foreign ownership will be permitted in two years and wholly foreign owned companies a year later. Foreign invested enterprises may now distribute products they have manufactured in China.

Normally negotiations to join the WTO usually affect only the acceding country, requiring it to make concessions and changes to its domestic laws and regulations. Amendments of Canadian legislation are normally not required. However, in the negotiations Canada and other countries sought and obtained the right to invoke China specific safeguards and to apply appropriate non-market economy rules in anti-dumping investigations on Chinese goods. The China safeguards differ from safeguards in other trade agreements in that they will be applicable only to imports from China, they will have a lower injury threshold and they will be temporary.

Legislative changes are necessary to integrate these provisions into the existing legislative framework. Amendments are also necessary so that while China makes the transition to a market economy Canada can continue to apply special price comparability rules to China in anti-dumping investigations. These amendments will allow Canada to implement fully the rights it obtained during the China accession negotiations. They are fully supported by industry and all the provinces of our country. All WTO members have the right to implement such measures.

We must not, however, delude ourselves into thinking that the accession of China will do away with all the difficulties being experienced by Canadian exporters. WTO membership will require radical changes in the structure of the Chinese economy and in the relationship between China's government and industry.

The commitments undertaken within the WTO will not materialize overnight. The process will be a slow one an uneven one, and will require WTO members to be vigilant. The tariff reductions will be carried out as planned but the more fundamental changes such as those to organizational structures, bureaucratic procedures, legislative and regulatory frameworks, and the political culture itself, will certainly require a bit of time.

The obligations binding China under the WTO rules and the related rights will reinforce and advance economic reform. Chinese exporters will be assured of definite and predictable access to foreign markets, and this will create employment and stimulate economic growth.

Liberalization of the investment rules, a more transparent regulatory framework and better access to export markets will attract foreign investors as well as the technology and employment that goes with them. In the long term, the enhanced competition in China will enhance the country's economic competitiveness and its productivity.

This all remains to be seen, of course, but the early signs are very encouraging. We will continue therefore to be vigilant and to ensure that Canadian exporters obtain the advantages agreed to as a condition of membership. Canada will make use of all available forums to ensure the respect of its rights under the WTO agreements and to ensure that China complies with its WTO obligations.

All WTO members share this same strong desire to ensure that China respects its WTO commitments. Affording it special treatment or special allowances because of its situation would undermine the fundamental principles of this organization, that is reciprocity, transparency, predictability and applicability. We would thus weaken the institution we have been involved in building up for the past 15 years, since the start of the Uruguay Round negotiations.

So far, China's progress has been promising. A lot remains to be done, but everything is going fine right now. China's customs tariffs for 2002 have gone down as expected. A number of laws and regulations were amended to comply with obligations under the WTO, including the important rules on foreign providers of services such as insurance, banking services, telecommunications, that are of particular interest to Canadian exporters. The achievements are noteworthy and are evidence of China's commitment to the WTO and its international obligations.

However, there are a number of areas where China has weaknesses. Agricultural exports are still impeded by trade barriers which, incidentally, violate the obligations that China has taken on when it joined, on December 11, 2001—quotas on agricultural exports are still not available, while new regulations on food safety are vague and seem to put considerable constraint on foreign exporters. We are continuing to look at these concerns with our Chinese counterparts, in the hope of finding a solution as soon as possible.

As I mentioned during the WTO's ministerial conference held in Doha in November, a new round of negotiations known as the Doha development agenda has been launched. This is a significant achievement that will allow Canada to pursue its interests in market access.

China clearly voiced its support for this new round of negotiations. Like other WTO members, we expect China's negotiation platform to reflect its interests. Some of these interests will undoubtedly be similar to those of Canada, while others will be different. However, we are convinced that the full participation of an economy as important as that of China, which is in full expansion, can only strengthen the multilateral trade system.

There is unequivocal evidence that the institutional framework and the principles stated in the WTO agreement contribute to sustained economic growth. The implementation will undoubtedly provide long term benefits to China. Ultimately, Canada's economic and commercial interests in China will depend on the size and strength of that country's economy.

A long time ago, China was the world's number one economy because of its huge population. Its current growth rate suggests that it could reach that status again by the middle of the century.

I am convinced that our Canadian exporters will succeed there, as they have everywhere in the world, thus making our country a great champion of the global trade system.