Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I appreciate the committee having me here today. I know I'm a bit of an outlier from your theme in that I'm with agriculture with, I guess, a bit of a connector back with biotechnology, but I appreciate your generosity in having me here today.
CropLife Canada is the trade association representing manufacturers, developers, and distributors of plant science innovations, including pest control products and plant biotechnology for use in agriculture, urban, and public health settings. We're committed to protecting human health and the environment and believe in providing a safe, abundant food supply for Canadians. We believe in driving innovation through continuous research.
CropLife Canada is a member of CropLife International, a global federation representing the plant sciences industry in 91 countries. Our mission is to enable the plant sciences industry to bring the benefits of this technology to farmers and to the public. Those benefits manifest themselves in many different forms, including sustainability, driving agricultural exports, job creation, strengthening the rural economy, and increased tax revenue for governments.
Canada is a trading nation and in no other sector is that more true than in agriculture. Canada enjoyed a surplus of close to $12 billion in agrifood trade in 2015. This is very positive not only for the Canadian economy, obviously, but for Canada in the leadership role we can play in feeding a growing world population.
This surplus is made possible by two broad policy pillars. First, it's supported by a science-based regulatory system that allows farmers to stay modern and competitive. It provides a stable, predictable regulatory framework based on sound science rather than politics, at least at the federal level, and it ensures that our farmers have access to the innovative tools of modern agriculture they need to be sustainable and productive.
The second pillar of Canadian agricultural success is international trade agreements that secure market access for Canadian products. CropLife Canada and its member companies are strong supporters of both the CETA, the agreement with the European Union, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership being discussed today. These two initiatives hold the promise of access to robust, prosperous, and growing markets for Canadian agricultural products.
TPP member countries represent over 65% of Canada's agrifood exports. Guaranteeing access to these markets is vital, given that Asia will represent two-thirds of the world's middle class by 2030 and half of global GDP by 2050. Put plainly, Canada's future competitiveness depends on agreements like the TPP.
Eliminating tariffs is obviously a very desired outcome. One issue I do wish to stress with the committee today, however, is that of non-tariff trade barriers. This is an issue of deep concern both to our members and their customers, Canada's farmers. Many agricultural exports face a daunting number of non-tariff trade barriers, such as trading rules on biotechnology, sanitary, and phytosanitary products. Rules on low-level presence of biotech crops and non-biotech shipments are an example of the former, and rules on maximum residue limits of pesticides on fruits and vegetables and all exported commodities would be an example of the latter.
In both instances we've seen arbitrary non-science based rules imposed by other nations act as a proxy for tariffs in preventing imports. As other witnesses before this committee have noted, the fall of tariffs around the world are often quickly accompanied by a rise in non-tariff trade barriers. In addition, there are cases where non-tariff trade barriers are not deliberate. There are many countries that clearly have no defined mechanism to establish an import maximum residue limit, or their process is not harmonized with Canada in terms of science or process.
It illustrates the need for both transparency and a rigorous dispute settlement mechanism in any trade agreement, one based on sound peer-reviewed science. Fortunately, the TPP has some clear wins on the issue of science-based regulation to accompany the tariff reductions. Transparency in decision-making is built into the agreement, as is a dispute settlement mechanism that has science-based regulation as a key component. The TPP will also specifically address the issue of low-level presence in shipments. This makes the science-based regulatory provisions of TPP significantly superior to those found in CETA.
Should we move forward on the TPP, it will be incumbent on Canada and all other nations with a science-based regulatory system to be vigilant on this issue and further clarifications in negotiations.
As you can see, Mr. Chair, our members are strong free traders. We know that trade and innovation are the two key pillars to growth and prosperity in Canada and that the TPP supports both of these pillars. The GrowCanada partnership, which represents all of Canada's major grower groups and of which we are a proud member, sees export growth as a key to prosperity for Canadian farmers, which is why you will see strong support for the TPP among every major grower group in Canada.
Across Canada nine out of every 10 farms are dependent on exports. This represents 210,000 farms, and includes the majority of farms in every province. Canada's food processing sector employs a further 290,000 Canadians.
To conclude, Mr. Chair, we see that the TPP is a tremendous step forward, and it's a statement of confidence in the future of Canadian agriculture. We would urge the Government of Canada to ratify the TPP and show leadership in encouraging other countries to do the same.