Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to the members of the committee for the opportunity to speak with you today. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to be present. My comments are going to be focused primarily on some of our national perspective.
CME has taken the opportunity to present across the country, and I think you've heard from some of our other representatives. My comments won't be dissimilar to some of the things they've said. I will add maybe a bit of local flavour from here in the province of New Brunswick on some of the things we're experiencing.
As you know, New Brunswick is Canada's most trade-intensive economy. A larger percentage of our GDP in New Brunswick comes through the export and trade of our manufactured goods. We're also very reliant on the service industry. We have a significant percentage of our population in New Brunswick who work in services, as well as the manufactured goods sector.
Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters is actually Canada's largest trade and industry association. We have representation right across the country, in every province. More than 85% of the members that we represent in the manufactured goods sector are small and medium-sized companies that represent pretty much every industrial sector of the export economy. That would also be representative here in New Brunswick as well. The members I represent are large-scale companies, such as the McCains of the world. I also represent our smaller manufacturers and exporters that would have maybe less than 10 employees and are doing metal fabrication and exporting that metalwork to other regions around the world.
Manufacturing is certainly the single-largest business sector in the country. Canadian manufacturing represented sales of about $600 billion in 2015, and directly accounts for about 11% of Canada's total economic output. Manufacturing employs about 1.7 million Canadians. Here in the province, the manufacturing sector directly employs approximately 26,000 individuals. I will say that we have seen those numbers go down in recent years. Over the last 10 years, across Atlantic Canada, employment in this sector is down significantly in manufacturing. It's somewhere in the order of about 30% over the last number of years. Unfortunately, that has come at the cost of some of our traditional resource industries: forestry, fishing, and other sectors.
In New Brunswick, about 95% of the businesses here employ 200 people or less, so there's approximately 4% of New Brunswick companies that employee more than 500 people. Our large pool of companies is actually quite small. There are over 500 companies in New Brunswick that employ under 10 people. We have a very broad mix of companies, but the lion's share of all the companies in the province are fairly small-size companies.
Simply put, Canada's domestic market is too small for manufacturers to thrive. It is an export-intensive business. More than half of our industrial production is involved directly in exporting as part of the global supply chains and integrated manufacturing, such as finished consumer goods, in almost every product category. Manufactured goods account for roughly 70% of all Canadian exports. The growing importance of the natural resources prices, given the fact that they remain weak, has certainly had an impact on the provincial economy here in New Brunswick, and obviously across the country. This is all the more reason why it's important to focus on new markets. We're very supportive of TPP for that reason.
While Canadian and U.S. markets remain the priority for most of Canada's exporters, a growing share of our members are looking to take advantage of new and emerging markets that go beyond NAFTA, especially countries represented in the TPP. As you stated, Mr. Chair, today its collective market represents over 650 million consumers and over $20 trillion in GDP. That, we believe, provides a significant opportunity for us to grow our exports from New Brunswick.
CME believes strongly that no trade agreement is worth signing unless three things can happen. First, it should create a fair and level playing field for Canadian manufacturers and exporters to ensure they have an equal opportunity to export to foreign markets, as our competitors have to import into Canada. Second, it should allow value-added exports from Canada and not just the export of natural resources or unvalue-added product. Third, the trade agreement should not undermine the existing integrated manufacturing supply chains that have been developed through previous free trade agreements, especially NAFTA.
CME has, in principle, supported Canada's entry into and signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership because of our small domestic market, the export orientation of our manufacturers, the deal's inclusion of our major trading partners, and the significant new market opportunities that it affords.
Throughout this process and in the lead-up to coming to present to you today, I did take the opportunity to speak to a number of companies, such as McCain and Irving, and a number of the smaller manufacturers. Two weeks ago, I was in Moncton and met with a number of seafood companies that were presenting at the Moncton Air Cargo Symposium. They were very supportive of growing our seafood trade into those particular markets. Our position, however, is not without reservations, certainly from several of our CME members. There are concerns over certain elements of the proposed deal, and they do remain fairly significant. While these may relate more to our Ontario colleagues, the lowering of content levels on automotive rules of origin, the lack of additional measures to curb the U.S. Buy American policies for government procurement, provisions to deal with currency manipulation, and the uneven tariff phase-out in certain sectors compared to those of our American counterparts are but a few of the concerns we've heard about directly.
So we're not without some reservations, but we believe overall that the TPP would really open up opportunities with some new markets. We do continue to encourage negotiations to work through these issues prior to final ratification to ensure fair treatment and opportunities for Canadian exporters. It's critical to keep in mind that export opportunities obviously start at home and are propped up by the strength of our domestic market, the innovativeness of our private sector, and the supports that Canadian exporters receive in accessing and supporting foreign markets.
For us, TPP means entering into an agreement with very aggressive, export-oriented countries. If we don't have similar domestic strategies for success, Canada has the potential to lose. We need a national strategy that aims to support domestic competitiveness in global exports.
First, all trade agreements open the door to increased competition. This can and should be perceived as a good thing. However, we need to be ready for that competition. While the private sector is willing and ready to compete on a level playing field, our business environment is often not entirely level. While our corporate tax regime is world-class, many other areas are not. Canadian companies face higher input costs, a much more costly regulatory burden, higher labour costs, and higher energy costs. Meanwhile, domestic supports for investment in innovation and advanced technologies significantly lack those of our international competitors.