Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning to all the committee members.
Perhaps I will begin by briefly introducing my colleagues at the table. Alessandro Longo is with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Brooke Davis is with Global Affairs Canada and is the deputy chief negotiator on this initiative. Stacy-Paul Healy is with the legal bureau at Global Affairs. Pierre Bouchard is from Employment and Social Development Canada. He was one of the negotiators on this deal, as were Stacy-Paul and Alessandro. Pierre, obviously, was involved in the labour chapter of the agreement.
Mr. Chairman, if I may, I will give a very brief opening set of remarks, focusing on Bill C-31, which is the legislation in question here concerning the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. The bill, of course, is called the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.
Canada already complies with many of the obligations under the Canada-Ukraine FTA, or CUFTA, as we refer to it. However, before this agreement can be brought into force, a statutory authority is required for Canada to implement some of the provisions of the agreement.
Bill C-31 contains the provisions typically found in an implementing bill for Canada's bilateral free trade agreements. These essentially fall into three groups: one, authority to implement institutional provisions of the agreement; two, amendments to Canadian law necessary to implement the agreement; and three, coordinating amendments.
Bill C-31 starts with provisions to enable Canada to implement the institutional provisions of CUFTA—for example, establishing the authority for ministers to appoint individuals to committees and to dispute settlement panels and other bodies established under the agreement, and also the authority for the Government of Canada to pay its share of expenses related to the operation of the agreement. Bill C-31 also authorizes the Governor in Council to make orders for carrying out provisions of the act, such as the suspension of benefits following dispute settlement.
Second—and this is the second group of elements of Bill C-31—the bill amends seven existing Canadian laws to enable the implementation of CUFTA. At the heart of these changes are amendments to the customs tariff to implement preferential tariffs for Ukrainian goods in line with the market access provisions in the agreement. There are also changes to the Customs Act that support these market access provisions. An example is authority to check whether goods qualify for tariff preferences under the agreement and to provide advanced rulings to assist companies in knowing how goods will be treated under the agreement.
The customs tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act are also being amended to implement provisions related to bilateral safeguard measures that may be taken if injury is caused to domestic producers due to increased imports.
The dispute settlement mechanism in the labour chapter of the agreement can result in a monetary assessment made enforceable in domestic law through amendments to the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act and the Department of Employment and Social Development Act. There are also amendments to the Financial Administration Act to authorize the Governor in Council to issue directives to crown corporations for the purpose of implementing the agreement.
Third, Bill C-31 contains amendments to coordinate with Bill C-30, which is the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement implementing legislation. Because both bills amend the same parts of the Customs Act, the coordinating amendments ensure that the amendments made by Bill C-30 do not undo the amendments made by Bill C-31, and vice versa.
That provides a brief overview of the contents of Bill C-31, Mr. Chairman.
I would be happy to address any questions that you or other committee members might have.