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Evidence of meeting #34 for International Trade in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was negotiations.

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
Jason Langrish  Executive Director, Canada Europe Roundtable for Business
José Isaías Rodríguez García-Caro  Member of the Committee, European Economic and Social Committee
Sandy Boyle  President, International Relations Section, European Economic and Social Committee
Jean-François Bence  Director, Consultative Works, European Economic and Social Committee
Rose D'Sa  Member, European Economic and Social Committee

4:05 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

Well, when we say parked, they're essentially completed; they're waiting for some developments in other areas to reach their end point and then it would be a matter of cleaning up the remainder of the chapter. The substance of the chapter is pretty much closed or completed when we say parked.

We anticipate no more areas of disagreement in those chapters, so we're considering that the eight chapters or areas are essentially completed. Some of them are waiting for some further developments to link in.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

But some of them are parked because they'll be in negotiations in other areas.

4:05 p.m.

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

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

So how many are completed, of those four?

4:05 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

I would have to say there would be four.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Sorry, of the four that you say are parked or completed, all four of them are completed?

4:10 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

Well, no. Of the eight that are either--

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I'm just talking about the four you mentioned. How many of those are completed?

4:10 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

I would say two of those are completed.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Okay, thank you.

I would like to move on to the intellectual property issues. We talked about drug patents. That's been a matter of increasing concern because of the cost to provincial health care plans but also the geographical indications.

I've been to public meetings in Nova Scotia and southern Ontario, and that's something that particularly the agricultural sector is raising more and more: the costs to businesses to have the geographical indications brought to bear and what that means to small businesses in some of our rural areas.

Has the department done any sort of estimate around the cost of intellectual property to Canadian health care plans and the cost to businesses of moving to geographical indications?

4:10 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

There has been some analysis done, certainly, on both of those issues. On the issues of geographical indications, we're a long ways from knowing exactly what we might end up negotiating. We're at the early stages yet, and we haven't discussed specific products.

I think that clearly we don't have an interest in providing any concessions on products that are common names in the Canadian market. The cost of removing those names or providing protection to the Europeans for those names is in all likelihood prohibitive. There's more potential for some obscure products that aren't really prevalent or that don't appear on the Canadian market. We'll be exploring those types of areas.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

But coming back to the issue of the cost to our health care plans, there's no estimate that the department has done. There's no indication as to what additional costs health care plans and consumers would be paying.

4:10 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

We haven't done any analysis on that internally within our department.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Thank you, sir. I'm going to move you along. I have a whole bunch of questions and I only get seven minutes.

On supply management, we've had previous witnesses say it is on the table. Could you confirm that the supply-managed sector has been put on the table in these negotiations?

4:10 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

Well, when we started the negotiations we agreed officially that everything was on the table. That was an explicit agreement at the beginning. As to whether everything will be on the table at the end of the negotiations, that's a different question.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Okay, thank you for that.

With respect to investor state, I was a little surprised in your statement that you don't raise concerns that I've certainly heard from European civil society organizations and also some European parliamentarians. I guess we'll have a better sense of that once we're there.

Canada's investor state provisions are something, as you know, the U.S. even moved away from after we signed NAFTA. Have you had indication at the negotiating table yet that there are increasing concerns around that unfortunate Canadian innovation that many people find contrary to democratic interests?

4:10 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

Well, it's more on the European side at the moment where most of the focus is. The commission only recently gained new competence in the area of investment protection; it was always left to member states in the past.

The European Union needs to develop an approach to investor protection. There will be a new one for the European Union, and they're looking at the approach we followed in the past. They're looking at other examples around the world. They're looking at what individual member states did in their bilateral investment treaties.

They're trying to develop a policy of their own. We haven't engaged in any negotiations on those issues yet because they don't yet have a position.

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Thank you.

I'd like to move on to the job loss total. We've had one credible study so far, and it shows a net job loss of 150,000 with the template for CETA. We have the reaction from the minister, and unfortunately the minister referenced NAFTA and auto production, which is a little strange, given that we've lost 30,000 jobs in the automotive sector since NAFTA was implemented. He raised the curious figure of Canada's auto production being 21% of the North American total, but it's not when you include Mexico. I know that a number of people in civil society have been asking for a correction from the minister, but the minister hasn't yet corrected what is clearly quite an egregious error from somebody who should understand trade statistics.

So I'm wondering, given that we have one credible study with net loss of 150,000 jobs and a minister whose only response was a factual error, whether there is within the department a study to show the actual figure of a net loss, as this study purports, a very credible study, or whether there might be a net benefit to Canada. Is there a study like that being undertaken?

I'll throw two more questions at you just because I know time is ticking. On government procurement, the Union of B.C. Municipalities has taken a strong stand against this agreement, and I know from some of the public meetings I've held that other municipalities across the country are concerned. So there's the issue of how the department responds to those who are concerned in local municipal government about what's being put on the table in government procurement.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Lee Richardson

You made reference to a credible study. I haven't seen a credible study. Would you be willing to table such a study?

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Certainly, Mr. Chair.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Lee Richardson

Thank you. That would be incredible.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

I would be overjoyed. I may bring copies next week so folks can read them on the plane.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Lee Richardson

You could bring them Wednesday and save us the anticipation. Thank you.

We're now going to move to Mr. Allison. I understand you're going to share your time with the parliamentary secretary.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

I most certainly am.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to our witnesses.

Non-tariff barrier regulations obviously have been an issue. You talk about a separate chapter. Could you elaborate a bit more for us just in terms of where that whole non-tariff-barrier regulatory direction's going?

4:15 p.m.

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

Steve Verheul

Sure. This was an area we wanted to concentrate on right from the beginning, because certainly the business community was telling us that a lot of the barriers in the EU market didn't relate to tariffs necessarily but more to regulatory standards and various other kinds of non-tariff barriers. When we start negotiating market access, unlike in most trade negotiations, we're not negotiating tariffs exclusively, we're negotiating market access. In other words, what does it take to get into the European Union market? We don't want to be surprised after the agreement is in place and other things pop up and we lose that access. So we have been taking a very comprehensive approach. Certainly the tariff side of that is fairly straightforward, if not easy, but the non-tariff-barrier part is more complex.

A big part of what we're concentrating on is regulatory cooperation--that is, getting our regulators to talk to each other on the ground floor before regulations start to get developed so they can try to avoid problems before they begin to emerge. Secondly, we're working on trying to address regulatory standards in particular by having things like some easing of the restrictions for Canada when it comes to meeting the standards, how you meet them, expenses related to meeting them, and trying to smooth the way to facilitate trade rather than throwing up more barriers. So we're putting a lot of effort and creative thinking on both sides, frankly, to try to address that issue, because it's one of the bigger ones.