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Evidence of meeting #41 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 japanese.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Ken Ilasz  Owner, Boulanger Bassin Bed and Breakfast
John Tak  Vice-President, International Business, Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc.
Dana Hayden  Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia
Henry Van Ankum  Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario
Erin Fletcher  Manager, Public Affairs and Communication, Grain Farmers of Ontario

12:20 p.m.

Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario

Henry Van Ankum

Well, essentially almost all of our exports to Japan are of the non-GM variety. That's their preference as far as the food grade uses are concerned.

We are able to provide them, through our segregation system and a series of protocols, guaranteed, identity-preserved, non-GMO soybeans for food uses there.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Okay.

Ms. Hayden, it's back to you just quickly.

Premier Clark and the opposition leader, Adrian Dix, both came out recently asking the federal government not to include IP patent extensions for pharmaceutical companies in the CETA negotiations, because it will conceivably add about $3 billion to the cost of Canadians' prescription medicines. Are there any concerns you have about negotiations with Japan that might be of similar ilk?

12:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

We haven't yet been able to canvass our stakeholders to see if there's a similar concern with respect to Japan, so I can't actually provide you with a perspective one way or the other on that.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Okay. Thank you.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Cannan, for seven minutes the floor is yours.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

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

First to Ms. Hayden, it's great, as a fellow British Columbian—there are four of us on the trade committee—to have the privilege of representing Kelowna—Lake Country, with MLAs Norm Letnick and Ben Stewart, and the Minister of Forests, Steve Thomson. I know the issue of raw logs is something near and dear to Steve as well. We've chatted about that.

With regard to the cultural ties, the City of Kelowna has a sister city in Kasugai, like many cities across Canada that have partnered with cities in Japan. As you mentioned, the educational opportunities are great for both the colleges, and UBCO and UBC in the lower mainland.

As for tourism, Minister Bell is doing a fantastic job within the ministry in creating jobs, tourism, and innovation.

The premier just came back from a trip to Asia. Were you with her or part of the delegation?

12:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

I was not on this one. I went with her to China and India in the fall, but I was not able to attend her recent trade mission to Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Do you have some feedback or a response as to how that trip went?

12:20 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

I think it was a successful trip. There were a number of good business connections made on both of the trade missions. Our premier had with her delegations of business stakeholders from, for example, the natural gas, or LNG sector, the mining sector, the forestry sector, seafoods, and international education in particular. We see Japan and Korea as two very important markets, with lots of opportunities for us in each of those areas.

I mentioned some of the concerns we have with respect to tariff or non-tariff barriers in those markets that prevent us from achieving our full potential in terms of our trade relationship with the country. During her mission to Japan and Korea, there were a number of agreements that were signed, and a number of important connections that were made. As on most of these missions, a premier or a senior minister attending—or the Prime Minister, for that matter—can open doors for businesses to be able to get them access to individuals who they might not otherwise be able to get access to. I know that the business community in B.C. was very appreciative of the opportunity to participate.

With Japan, of course, it's very much a relationship approach in terms of building relationships before there is a business-to-business connection and actual commerce flowing back and forth. So I think it was extremely important for the premier early on in her position to establish that relationship with Japan. Certainly the consul general and others who we speak to have indicated that the mission was very successful from that perspective as well.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

That's fantastic.

One quick question before I go over to our friends with the Grain Growers. Rob Howard is another MLA who's been working on the air services agreement. I agree with Asia-Pacific gateway and the “Canada starts here” strategy of the B.C. government. Could you maybe elaborate a little bit more on the concerns about the air services agreement?

12:25 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, Government of British Columbia

Dana Hayden

Certainly. In terms of air services, we very much would like to see an opening of the opportunity for more air traffic back and forth between Canada and Japan.

Rob Howard—if you've had an opportunity to speak to him—and certainly British Columbia would like an open skies kind of policy in B.C. I think our approach at this point is to take a look at key markets where we want to improve the flow of tourism, the flow of business people, access, and try to focus on those key markets. We would like greater air access with Japan. We think that our opportunities with respect to the export of goods and business people going back and forth are there to support greater traffic.

There is another example, not related to Japan, but to India. There are no direct flights from Vancouver to India, which creates a huge barrier in terms of our ability to increase business activity and tourism activity from that market. We do have direct flights to Japan from Vancouver, but certainly, increasing the frequency of those, opening up the ability to have greater access, lesser tariffs, lesser fees, and more open air trade would be extremely valuable to B.C.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Thank you very much.

I just have one minute left, and Henry or Erin, I appreciate your input as well. You said there's potential in your industry for increase in market share with this EPA with Japan. Have you, within your industry, any estimate as far as being able to quantify what that potential upside is of the agreement?

12:25 p.m.

Erin Fletcher Manager, Public Affairs and Communication, Grain Farmers of Ontario

That would be essentially taking market share from the Chinese, increasing the market share that we have on the natto bean market. That would be taking it away from the Chinese, and also taking away market share from Brazil and Argentina. Right now we have 38% of the food grain market, so there's another 62% to go after.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Right, go for it, girl.

12:25 p.m.

Manager, Public Affairs and Communication, Grain Farmers of Ontario

Erin Fletcher

It would be about the same value.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Just to clarify, what's your biggest impediment, then, and what can we do, as a government, with this agreement to help you go for that 60% that's still on the table?

12:25 p.m.

Manager, Public Affairs and Communication, Grain Farmers of Ontario

Erin Fletcher

Promotion and assistance with our trade missions is probably the biggest way you can help us at this point.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Very good, so we have 38% of the market, so 68%...or 62% wrong, if we can get that right.

Mr. Easter, go ahead.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

You can add, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, folks, for your presentations.

Just starting with the grain industry first, Henry, you did mention at the beginning that these are non-GMO beans. Is there also export of regular soybeans from Ontario into Japan?

12:25 p.m.

Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario

Henry Van Ankum

I don't believe there are significant exports of the GM variety at this time. They may use some for their own domestic feed industry, for soybean meal, but the bulk of our exports are the non-GM variety for food-grade purposes.

June 5th, 2012 / 12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

The reason I ask is because we in Prince Edward Island export non-GM canola into Japan. I know the Japanese come over and they inspect the fields. I think you mentioned that in terms of your presentation. One of the worries is that if a GM product is anywhere near those fields, then you're not going to get that product to market.

Do you see any risks there, or what needs to be done either at the provincial or federal level to ensure that export of the non-GMO crop is not put at risk?

12:30 p.m.

Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario

Henry Van Ankum

This is an area where we really shine in Ontario, and it is that we have experienced growers who have developed a very strong set of protocols that are very specifically followed. This enables us to certify and deliver non-GM beans and all those beans pass a non-GM test before they are exported.

I think we have a very strong set of protocols in place that could be reinforced by government, but that enables us to guarantee delivery of non-GMs to this market.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

It isn't the folks who are producing the non-GMOs who I worry about, it's their neighbours. I look at it from the province of Prince Edward Island's perspective where we don't have a huge land base, and it is increasingly a problem to keep the distances of separation between crops.

You have a protocol established in Ontario. Would it be possible for you to forward that to us?

12:30 p.m.

Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario

Henry Van Ankum

Yes, absolutely, we could forward that to you. We have a set of grower protocols called CIPRS, which I referred to. Those have enabled us to certify non-GM content in these shipments, and I think we have a great track record with it and we can continue to do so.

We've been able to coexist—GM and non-GM—in this arrangement.