moved that Bill C-85, an act to amend the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act and to make related amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by adding my voice to the eloquent words of others earlier on in the House today expressing their horror at the tragedy in Pittsburgh over the weekend taking lives only because Jews were targeted. I will say more about this later on in my remarks because this is my community. I will talk about the ties between Israel and Canada which are based on family, friendship, shared values and understanding the importance of these relationships in an uncertain world.
I rise in the House today in support of legislation to implement the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, or CIFTA.
As Minister of International Trade Diversification, I can attest that today, more than ever, we need to diversify our trade and tap new markets so that more Canadians can compete and succeed worldwide. This government has secured the North American platform with the new USMCA. When we add to that the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, in place since last year, and the now ratified Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, that platform actually extends east and west, from Tokyo to Tallinn.
In CETA's first year, Canadians have added $1.1 billion in increased exports to Europe. With 500 million European consumers at our doorstep, that number is sure to grow. In the fast-growing Asia-Pacific markets, the CPTPP will add a further 500 million consumers to Canada's ever-increasing network of free trade.
Canada is now the only G7 country with free trade links to all of the others. Think about the importance of that reality. We have 41 FTAs connecting us to 1.5 billion of the world's consumers. lnvestors recognize how important this is. FTAs are the bridges, but to truly realize the opportunity we have created, we need people, the entrepreneurs and first-time exporters, to cross those bridges. Our diversity is our economic strength.
Canada and Israel have long been connected through the power of people-to-people ties, a shared commitment to democracy and a friendship that started 70 years ago when Israel became a nation. It continues to grow with each passing year.
Israel is the home of the Jewish people and if we needed reminding why this is so important, why affirming and reaffirming our bonds is so important, we horrifically saw why when on Saturday, 11 worshippers were killed in Pittsburgh only because they were Jewish.
Jewish people have been in Canada since 1759 and now our community of more than 350,000 continues to contribute impressively to our national mosaic. My grandparents came to Canada in 1906, escaping the pogroms of the tsar. They were persecuted only because they were Jewish. That is yet another reason to underline the importance of security to the State of Israel.
I have visited Israel many times and made my first trip as Canada's Minister of International Trade Diversification in August. Canada and Israel have forged a partnership that continues to deepen with each passing year. Strengthening those bonds depends on constant renewal, which is why our government recently modernized the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. The agreement creates opportunities for Canadians and Israelis to partner in the growing fields of science, technology and innovation across our vibrant markets. The agreement has the potential for more people to work together, creating well-paying jobs for hard-working Canadians as a result.
Bill C-85 before the House today stands as testimony to Canada's and Israel's shared commitment to maintain openness, celebrate our friendship and expand our links so that more of our people and more of our businesses can benefit from them.
I am especially pleased that this modernized trade agreement strengthens our commercial ties, generating more business for both our countries. When Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen travelled to Canada this year to sign our modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, we built on that partnership. We committed to a forward-looking framework for trade that expanded meaningful access to each other's markets and introduced chapters on gender, labour, environmental protection, and support for small and medium-sized enterprises. Minister Cohen said at that time, “We are witnessing a historical step in the trade relations between the two countries with the signing of the upgraded agreement.”
In some respects Minister Cohen was even a little understated. We expanded market access for more Canadians and Israelis, but we also pushed the envelope by writing new international law, putting an end to inequality of access to job-creating trade and investment. The new chapters on gender, the environment and labour are explicitly about growing our trading relationship while expanding access for those who did not necessarily see themselves or their values reflected in the agreements of the past.
There is enormous untapped economic potential, but for too long we have focused on the few and not on the many. We are changing that. We are encouraging more of these would-be exporters to get in the game, and these chapters are about showing workers and their families that trade can work for them. Israel is clearly thinking longer term to future-proof its own economy, taking full advantage of its entrepreneurial spirit to develop a high-tech industry and to promote clean technologies.
Israelis have every right to tout the initiatives launched by the Israel Innovation Authority to drive public sector innovation. We see room to expand Canadian-Israeli business partnerships, innovating our way into greater prosperity.
Since the original CIFTA came into force in 1997, merchandising trade between Canada and Israel has more than tripled, reaching $1.7 billion in 2017. This demonstrates the importance of trade agreements to bilateral trade.
The modernized CIFTA will open new doors and make Canadian goods more competitive in the Israeli market. For example, in this new agreement, we have expanded market access for goods by eliminating tariffs on nearly all products traded between Canada and Israel, nearly all products. This will make Canadian agri-food, agriculture, fish and seafood products more competitive in the Israeli market, benefiting a range of companies in all those sectors.
We have also negotiated rules that are designed to address non-tariff barriers, facilitate trade, make it more predictable, and reduce red tape, including some of the costs to companies for doing business. The modernized CIFTA also adopts a new framework that includes chapters on trade and gender, small and medium enterprises, labour and the environment, as well as a new provision on corporate social responsibility.
The modernized agreement reflects who we are as vibrant, diverse, open and democratic societies. This agreement is not only for today but for future generations.
The new chapters on trade and gender and on small and medium enterprises ensure that the benefits and opportunities that flow from trade and investment are more widely shared. Both chapters provide frameworks for Canada and Israel to work together to encourage women and small and medium enterprises to take full advantage of this agreement.
The new chapter on environment includes robust commitments so that parties maintain high levels of environmental protection, while liberalizing trade. This is in line with other Canadian FTAs, including more environmental governance. This is the first environmental chapter that Israel has ever agreed to in a free trade agreement.
Canada and Israel also agreed to a chapter on labour that includes comprehensive and enforceable obligations to protect and promote internationally recognized labour principles and rights. The labour chapter recognizes that economic development is not achieved at the expense of workers' rights, backed by an enforceable dispute settlement mechanism.
A modernized CIFTA shows the world that we put our people first and are committed to embracing that value as an economic strength.
One in six Canadian jobs are directly linked to exports, and that is one of the reasons we are so committed to expanding the pie for all Canadians. The more bridges we build, the more opportunities there are for people to cross those bridges with goods, services and investments.
For those here today who may not know, Israel has a long-standing reputation for technological prowess, with a well-developed scientific and educational base. We see room to expand and build partnerships in these sectors and many others. There are exciting opportunities for Canadian companies in sectors such as aerospace, smart mobility, sustainable technologies, information and communications technology, life sciences and energy.
There are also great prospects for joint research and development. For example, Canadian and Israeli firms have joined forces to develop an ultraviolet water monitoring system that ensures the safety of drinking water. There are even more possibilities on the horizon that will change countless lives in communities across the globe. When I was in Tel Aviv in September, I announced a pilot program to facilitate new cybersecurity solutions for the energy sector, matching expertise in areas like anti-hacking with the needs of Canada's natural gas delivery companies.
With so much potential and opportunity on both sides, it simply makes sense that we work together and knit our economies even tighter. Not surprisingly, the government's consultations, in the context of the negotiations, have consistently revealed support for a modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. Canadians want to do more business in and with Israel in the years ahead. A modernized free trade agreement between our countries is a surefire way to make that happen. Our competitiveness depends on small and medium-sized enterprises pursuing trade opportunities and for us to support them in doing so.
The Prime Minister has prioritized, in my mandate as minister of international trade and diversification, support for Canadian businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that flow after trade agreements are signed, including by drawing on resources from across government and from public and private sector partners.
In order for the benefits of FTAs to be fully realized, Canadian businesses need to be aware of the agreements and the benefits they offer. Once ratified, I will work hard to promote awareness of the modernized agreement so would-be exporters have the information they need to get into the market.
My department has mobilized a free trade agreement promotion task force that is undertaking a comprehensive outreach and training program for the business community. Efforts of the task force are currently focused on flagship agreements, like Canada's trade agreement with the European Union, or CETA, and the CPTPP, which last week received royal assent and was subsequently ratified. I want to pause here and thank all members of the House who co-operated so fully to ensure that Canada was among the first tranche to ratify, which gives us a first advantage that will be meaningful for our entrepreneurs and our exporters, and ultimately will create jobs for Canadians.
Once CIFTA is ratified, I will ensure this promotion work is extended to this agreement too. At the same time, Canadian companies can access the free services and export advice offered by the Canadian trade commissioner service, TCS, which is 1,000 strong around the world. The TCS helps Canadian companies export by preparing businesses for international markets, providing market potential assessments, offering connections to qualified contacts abroad and assisting in resolving business problems.
The CanExport program, which is delivered by the TCS in partnership with the National Research Council industrial research assistance program, helps Canadians take the practical and necessary steps to make their first sale overseas. This five-year, $50-million program provides direct financial assistance to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to make that happen. In June 2018, the government announced an additional $40 million for the CanExport program. The new funding, along with enhancements to the program, will provide Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises with more opportunities to diversify their export markets, including to Israel.
Now we need to give life to our agreement by taking advantage of the two-way trade between our knowledge-based, innovation-driven economies.
With our expanded air transport agreement, we need more travel between our two countries and the flights to support it.
There are ample reasons to be optimistic about our future. Not only does working together support economic prosperity and job creation in both countries, it raises the international bar for the rules-based and inclusive trading order on which economies like ours depend. This is yet another example where two states recognize that our future prosperity depends on liberalized trade.
We know in Canada that there are protectionist forces and that is why we convened 12 nations just last week to push for concrete reforms to the WTO so that the future of global trade is put on a better footing.
We need more partnerships in the world that reflect this approach and the approach we have taken with Israel in CIFTA.
We need to create the conditions for small and medium-sized businesses to compete and succeed because they are the lifeblood of both of our economies.
Going about the business of trade differently is not just about exporting values, it is about adding value to our respective bottom lines. We can only do that if we focus on the middle class and the confidence they need to make their first international sale or deal.
Our modernized trade agreement is an example of what happens when two governments decide to put the middle class at the heart of our trade agenda.
I therefore urge all hon. members to support Bill C-85 and thereby enable Canada to do its part to bring the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement into force in a timely way.