Evidence of meeting #33 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 negotiations.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Ian Burney  Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Denis Landreville  Lead Negotiator, Regional Agreements, Trade Negotiations Division, Trade Agreements and Negotiations Directorate, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Shenjie Chen  Head, Research Projects Unit, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Phil Calvert  Director General, North Asia Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

12:20 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

It is not quite clear yet what we will be able to negotiate with Japan under a free trade agreement. Canada and Japan both have very high environmental standards, but it is not clear yet whether we will have the same approach in the context of a free trade agreement. That is one of the things we will have to clarify with the Japanese, and that will probably happen at the beginning of the process.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

This will happen before discussions.

12:20 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

Discussions have already begun under the framework of the joint study, but now they must continue, because we have to decide whether there will be a parallel agreement on the environment. This is what we have done in the past, but not the Japanese. They usually do not have parallel agreements on the environment in their free trade agreements.

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Regarding labour practices, perhaps it was different in the past, but today the Japanese work and operate in a very efficient manner. Just think of their subway system. What they have achieved is truly impressive. What aspects, such as issues affecting unions, could be included in a parallel accord to a free trade agreement?

12:20 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

The answer is similar to the one I gave you regarding the environment. Our approach in free trade agreements is a little bit different, but we will work with Japan, from an international point of view, on matters concerning the protection of workers. In that regard, we do not have any concerns regarding working conditions in Japan. We will have to determine which approach will work best in the context of a free trade agreement. That's not clear yet. Canada usually signs parallel accords, but this has not been Japan's approach in its own free trade agreements.

Denis, did you want to add anything?

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Keddy will finish off the questioning, and then we will go into an in camera session.

May 1st, 2012 / 12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Unfortunately, I missed part of your discussion. I hope I don't repeat anything my colleagues have already said.

I do have a couple of issues I think we need to take a little closer look at here. This is an ambitious agreement, with a fairly high level of ambition from us and--for the first time, it looks like--from the Japanese.

There a couple of issues where we have a good relationship with Japan, and I'm wondering if we can't use those to our advantage. I want to go back to the fishery for a bit. Japan has been a very useful ally at the international commission on Atlantic tuna, at the ICCAT meetings. If it weren't for Japan agreeing to take Canadian tuna—we export the majority of our tuna to Japan—the Americans, the Spaniards, and the Portuguese, who constantly snooker us on tuna, in my opinion, would have all the quota. They wanted to pass a law at the last ICCAT meeting that 90% of the tuna caught had to be consumed domestically in the country that catches it. That's great for those nations that consume more tuna than we do, but we probably have a more efficient fleet and a more conservation-minded fleet.

So I think those things shouldn't be forgotten when we're talking to the Japanese, because we do supply the majority of their tuna and we have an ally there.

The bilateral access on sub-national procurement--I'd like you to go back over that for a moment. The new agreement at the WTO and the maximum and minimum levels--I'd like for you to reaffirm those. Is it still, on infrastructure, $8.5 million, and $370,000 on the smaller level for services? What's the number?

12:25 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

In a previous incarnation, Dany was our procurement lead. She's saying that sounds right, but that's from memory; she wouldn't want to swear to it.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Okay. I don't want to say mine's right either, but it's close.

12:25 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

Yes, it's ballpark.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

If those numbers are not accurate, perhaps you could let the committee know.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Yes.

But I think the importance of mentioning that...and it still leaves a lot of leeway for self-direction on behalf of smaller municipalities. I think there's some concern, when you start talking about procurement, but when people realize that those rules exist already, that concern goes away. When you hear some of the opposition to this agreement, it's as if we don't have procurement rules already.

I think we need to do a better job, and probably the department as well, of putting that information out there for the general public, because they're not aware of it. I've talked to a number of councillors across the country on the CETA with the EU, and they have no idea of the parameters that are already in existence. I think for our own benefit, that's important.

The access for beef; when we look at beef in Japan, do we know within some degree of accuracy how much beef the Japanese already produce on their own? I know they're pretty protective of it.

You know, quite frankly, I wouldn't understand why we would try to go in there and simply.... We're not going to get the entire market. What we want is our market share. I think we can accommodate beef production within Japan, because they just simply don't have the tonnage.

Do we know what they produce?

12:25 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

While Denis looks for that number, I'll just say that I've taken note of all three of your points.

I know that tuna is already a big business for us in Japan. I believe we exported $37 million in tuna last year. It certainly will be an area of priority.

On the procurement point—

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Most of that is coming from the south shore of Nova Scotia, by the way.

12:25 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Ian Burney

I'll make a special note of that.

Just so there's no misunderstanding, the current coverage of the procurement agreement does not include municipalities. There is no municipal coverage in the current agreement.

On beef, I know that our exports have recovered significantly since the BSE ban was lifted. We're up at around $80 million in terms of exports of beef last year.

Denis, do you have any further information?

12:25 p.m.

Lead Negotiator, Regional Agreements, Trade Negotiations Division, Trade Agreements and Negotiations Directorate, Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Denis Landreville

I don't have exact figures in front of me in terms of what the Japanese beef production is, but it does fall into different categories. They have their dairy sector, which provides some dairy cows for slaughter. They have steer and heifer, as well, and they have the wagyu beef, which is their high-end, expensive beef. Within that, yes, I think we would enter a certain segment of their market. Some of those sectors may be in more of a position to compete with Canadian imports. But from the work we've done looking at this, I think our access into their market will more likely lead to increased consumption. That's where we will see our imports of beef into the Japanese marketplace increase in terms of generating more consumption of beef in Japan.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

I want to thank you very much for coming and launching us into this very exciting opportunity for a partnership agreement between Canada and Japan.

Thank you, Mr. Burney, and your very capable team, for answering our questions so clearly and capably.

With that, we want to adjourn this part of the meeting as we go in camera, so thank you very much again.

[Proceedings continue in camera]