[Member spoke in Cree]
I am pleased to have the opportunity today to talk about the significant benefits of the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, or CPTPP. I want to talk specifically about the Canadian fish and seafood sector.
This agreement is extremely important not only for Canada, but also for Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It is also important for us to have access to those markets.
The Canadian fish and seafood sector is vital to our economy and essential to maintaining a solid employment base in a diverse economy. We are fortunate to have a very prosperous fish and seafood sector. It contributes more than $2 billion to Canada's GDP annually and provides more than 76,000 jobs for Canadians.
Regionally, this sector offers economic opportunities to countless communities both on the coasts and even in Canada's interior.
In the west, employment in British Columbia's fish and seafood industry accounts for approximately 12% of all jobs in this sector across Canada. In the Maritimes, more than two-thirds of the entire Canadian fish and seafood sector is employed across the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Fishing is also important in Quebec and our northern communities in Yukon and Nunavut, while freshwater fishing is notably important for Manitoba.
Commercial fishing is a valued industry in Manitoba. For over 100 years, Manitobans have been commercially fishing and harvesting fish. The majority of production comes from Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba, but seven smaller lakes in the south and northern Manitoba are also fished. The resource is managed through the use of quotas, the mesh size of gillnets, by season, and by regulation of the number of licenced fishers. The management tools allow fish populations and the industry to remain viable. They also ensure that resources are shared equitably on all the lakes with not only non-indigenous people but also treaty indigenous people and Métis people. Since almost all of the commercial production is sold out of the country, the $30 million in annual sales represents a significant and important contribution to the livelihoods of Manitoba fishing families.
In Manitoba, it is also important to maintain high quality. Manitoba is the only jurisdiction in the western hemisphere with an eco certified freshwater market. We have achieved a Marine Stewardship Council certification and are very proud of that. Now, 85% of the total fish harvested in Manitoba is exported to other markets. There are 3,155 licenced fishermen in Manitoba and 83% of these are of indigenous descent. They help support many indigenous communities and help provide a good livelihood and support for many families. There are 46 communities and first nations who are involved in this fishery and 294 resulting direct jobs that have improved people's quality of life from their involvement in the fishery. Many Canadians' jobs and livelihood depend on this sector, which is the economic mainstay of approximately 1,500 communities in rural and coastal Canada.
I will now focus on why free trade agreements and the CPTPP in particular are necessary to sustain and develop Canada's fish and seafood industry.
Simply put, Canada's fisheries and aquaculture industries produce high-quality, sustainably sourced fish and seafood that help feed the world. The Canadian fish and seafood industry is export-oriented and depends on international markets. In Asia, increased demand from the region's growing middle class represents enormous potential for Canadian exporters of high-quality fish and seafood products.
Once the CPTPP enters into force, it will provide Canadian fish and seafood exporters with preferential access to one of the largest trading blocs in the world, representing close to 500 million people and 13.5% of global GDP. Altogether, Canadians exported an annual average of $732 million in fish and seafood products to CPTPP markets from 2015 to 2017.
Japan is one CPTPP market where Canadian companies can expect huge growth opportunities. Japan is the third-largest economy in the world and imports more than 60% of its food on a caloric basis, so its demand for imported foods is high.
Right now, Canada's ability to compete in the CPTPP markets is hindered by the high tariffs imposed on fish and seafood products like frozen snow crab, lobster, salmon, fish fillets, and oysters. These tariffs can range from 3.5% to 34% in CPTPP countries like Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and New Zealand.
When the agreement enters into force, more than 90% of the fish and seafood tariff lines will immediately become duty-free for Canadian exports, which had an average annual value of $647 million between 2015 and 2017. The remaining 10% will be phased out within 15 years.
For example, close to 66% of Japan's fish and seafood tariff lines will be eliminated upon entry into force of the agreement, providing preferential market access for Canada's premium fish and seafood products, such as lobster, crab, shrimp, salmon, herring roe, sea urchins and halibut. Eighty-three per cent of Vietnam's fish and seafood tariff lines will become duty free upon entry into force, while all Canadian fish and seafood exports to Malaysia will become duty free on day one. Enhanced market access for Canadian companies through the CPTPP will create the conditions for increased exports and will contribute to the vitality of the sector and its greater long-term prosperity.
Additional rules for streamlined customs and administration procedures, as well as enhanced regulatory co-operation, will also help Canadian exporters and suppliers save time and money at the borders of CPTPP countries. With increased access and less red tape, these products will gain an advantage over those of competitors from countries that do not have preferential access to CPTPP markets. At the same time, each CPTPP party will maintain the right to take measures necessary for food safety and to protect against risks to animal or plant life or health while helping to ensure that market access gains are not undermined by unnecessary trade restrictions.
The CPTPP's clear rules on developing, adopting and implementing measures for food safety and the protection of animals, plant life and health ensure that any measures will be science based, risk based and transparent. Ultimately, these provisions will create a predictable training environment for CPTPP members, giving manufacturers and exporters a leg up in prospective markets. Consultations with the fish and seafood industry have been overwhelmingly positive. The feedback from Canadians making a living in this sector is that the fish and seafood industry stands to benefit from the elimination of tariffs, and they are excited about this agreement.
The CPTPP also includes an environment chapter that addresses a number of important global environmental challenges with binding commitments from CPTPP members to, among other things, combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and promote sustainable fisheries management, including through obligations to prohibit subsidies that negatively affect fish stocks. The environment chapter also establishes a framework for co-operation in areas of mutual interest. This includes, for example, working together to mitigate the impacts of climate change, promote and conserve biodiversity, address the illegal wildlife trade, combat invasive alien species and promote sustainable fisheries practices. By maintaining policy flexibility in areas, including fisheries and aquaculture, Canada will ensure the sustainability of our valuable fish resources now and into the future.
By increasing and diversifying Canada's presence in major seafood markets in the Asia-Pacific region, this trade agreement has the potential to provide significant benefits to thousands of Canadians. By providing duty-free access to this huge market, CPTPP will help put more of our country's world-class fish and seafood products on more dinner plates and tables around the world. The fish and seafood sector contributes greatly to Canada's economic prosperity and standard of living, especially our coastal regions, but also to indigenous communities in the interior like Manitoba, and is vital to long-term growth.
I am fully committed to supporting this sector and to ensuring that it remains a vibrant and integral part of Canada's culture and economy. That is why I encourage all members of the House to vote in support of this bill, to allow us to implement the CPTPP in order for Canadians, including indigenous fishermen and all fishermen in Manitoba, to reap its benefits.