Mr. Chairman and committee members, thank you for the invitation to take part in your consultations on Bill C-30.
The Business Council of Canada represents the chief executives and entrepreneurs of 150 leading Canadian companies in all sectors and regions of the country. Our member companies employ 1.4 million citizens, account for more than half the value of the TSX, contribute the largest share of federal corporate taxes, and are responsible for most of Canada's exports, corporate philanthropy, and private sector investments in R and D.
The Business Council strongly supports the ratification and implementation of CETA. On behalf of the council, I would like to congratulate Minister Freeland, Steve Verheul, the team at Global Affairs, and the previous government for their tireless efforts in achieving signature of this world-class agreement.
There are four key reasons why we believe CETA will benefit Canada and support its swift implementation.
First, CETA will boost economic growth. While this may seem like a very obvious point, it deserves to be emphasized, given that we're living in a time of slow growth in Canada and around the world. The agreement will benefit Canadian businesses of all sizes by giving them preferential access to the world's largest and wealthiest economic bloc, with a population of over 509 million people and a combined GDP of $17 trillion.
The EU is the world's second-largest importer of goods and also a major services importer. According to a recent analysis by the Conference Board of Canada, tariff elimination on goods alone will result in over $1.4 billion being added to Canada's merchandise exports to the EU by 2022. At a time of lackluster Canadian trade performance, this will serve as a significant boost.
Across Canada, in industries from food processing to chemicals, health sciences, and professional services, the removal of tariffs and other barriers that currently impede Canadian exports will create jobs, improve productivity, and promote growth. At the same time, the agreement will benefit Canadian consumers by eliminating tariffs. This will enhance competition and will lower prices for Canadians, while businesses will have access to cheaper inputs.
Second, CETA is Europe's first comprehensive economic partnership agreement with a western developed country. This gives Canadian companies a significant first-mover advantage over their competitors.
With the U.S.-EU transatlantic trade and investment partnership—TTIP—negotiations stalled, Canadian companies will be positioned to take advantage of preferential access over the U.S. competitors in the large European market. For many small, medium-sized, and large Canadian employers, this will mean new opportunities and, potentially, increased sales. The first-mover advantage will also help to attract investment to Canada. Companies looking to increase sales to Europe through CETA can use Canada as an export platform, and we believe this will attract investment and jobs to communities across Canada.
Third, CETA sends a positive and hopeful signal to the rest of the world about the benefits of international economic co-operation and open markets. Since the end of the Second World War, trade has been the principal means by which countries around the world have grown and prospered. As trade has flourished, incomes have increased and workers have benefited from new opportunities.
Despite the clear benefits of trade, we are unfortunately witnessing a rise in protectionism around the world. Since 2008, according to the WTO, G20 economies have introduced nearly 1,600 new trade-restricting measures, while removing just 387. This has contributed to slowing global trade growth, with the WTO forecasting that global trade will expand by just 1.7% in 2016. This is well below a previous forecast of 2.8%. Most notably, if this forecast holds, 2016 will be the first time in 15 years that the ratio between trade growth and world GDP falls below 1:1. In short, I believe that CETA builds on Canada's reputation for openness to the world at a time when others are turning inward.
My last point is that CETA will help to diversify Canada's trade. With last week's U.S. election outcome and the uncertainty created by potential NAFTA renegotiation, Canada's trade diversification efforts are more critical then ever to sustaining our collective prosperity. Canada must do everything possible to find new customers for our exports and new economic opportunities for our citizens. The best way to do this is to position Canada as one of the world's most open and global markets through a renewed trade strategy. The swift implementation of CETA must be the first component of this strategy.
With that, I'll conclude my remarks and look forward to questions.