Evidence of meeting #64 for International Trade in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was chile.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Thank you. Those were good questions and good answers.

We're going to move over to the NDP.

Go ahead, Ms. Ramsay.

April 11th, 2017 / 4:30 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Thank you, Minister, for being here today. As you've said, we have a very active committee, and we are certainly looking at a lot of different files.

You spoke a lot about the Liberal government and its desire to be progressive, open, and transparent. I think China will be a big test of that. It will really be the first agreement negotiated by the Liberal government. All the agreements so far have been from the Conservatives, and we're kind of picking up where they left off.

We also have the trade in services agreement, TISA, which the government has been silent on. There are many labour groups, many groups across this country, that are concerned about TISA and its implications. This is in very advanced rounds. In the EU, the European Commission reports after each round. This is past the 21st round of negotiating, yet we hear nothing here in Canada. This is, I believe, where people are continuing to feel left out of trade agreements, and to feel that there isn't openness and transparency.

Can you update us on TISA and on when we will see the transparency and openness that's been promised around TISA?

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Throughout the CETA negotiations, we made public at every round the documents coming out of.... I appreciate that the question is about TISA, but you were questioning whether we have been open and transparent. I think there has been a desire from the beginning to engage people in the negotiations and to be very transparent. That's why, for example, with regard to China, we're starting negotiations—

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

With all due respect, Minister, that's not across every agreement. What happened in CETA is different than what's happened in TPP, and it's different than what's happened in TISA. My question is specifically around the trade in services agreement.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

My answer to you was that we are committed to openness and transparency when we negotiate these agreements. We have been engaging with provinces and territories, and we are continuing to do that. I have been fairly transparent, even in the discussions that led...and the ones that I just recently had on different agreements.

With respect to TISA, I'd be happy to come back to you to look at the officials and what we can provide you with for more transparency. What I tell you—

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

It's not just myself. I think.... On the Global Affairs website, it's very thin. When we compare it to the European Commission and what it's posting for all Europeans to see, there's a vast difference in the amount of information being shared with European people versus what's being shared here. If there really is a desire to share things and be open and transparent, perhaps the European model is a good one to follow, and in the spirit of our agreement with them as well.

We've been doing a study here on Chinese steel dumping. This is a very real, serious concern for our steel industry in Canada. We saw it alluded to in the budget.

My first question is, when can we expect the changes to the trade remedy system that are being called for across the board? I've never heard every person at the table calling for the exact same thing. That's an update, a modernization, of our trade remedy system, and that's what's coming out of that sector.

My second question is, will Canada grant market economy status to China?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

With regard to China and steel, I met with industry representatives just recently. I note, like you, in the budget.... I can't tell you for sure when that particular measure would come into place. With regard to market economy status, it's my colleague, the Minister of Finance, who is looking into that. What I can say to you is that we are very cognizant of what's going on in steel—and not only in Canada. When I meet with my counterparts, this is something that we are considering and discussing. This is a real issue. We are very cognizant of the fact.

The budget, like you said, mentioned a number of things. We are consulting with the industry. I even did that in my previous role with the industry, so I'm quite familiar with them. With respect to the exact date of the application, we will have to come back to you with that.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Will Canada grant China market economy status at the WTO?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

As I said, that's not a decision that is made by the Minister of International Trade. We will look into that, but the Minister of Finance is the one who makes that determination on behalf of Canada.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Can you tell us then what conversations you've had with the Chinese around steel dumping and the issue that we have here?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Yes. I did not have a discussion with the Chinese on steel dumping personally.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Okay.

My next question—

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Sorry, you have 25 seconds.

It will have to be a quick question and a quick answer.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

I will do my best, Mr. Chair.

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Are we pursuing TPP 2.0? You've come out of Chile with these clear guidelines on where you go between then and Vietnam. Is it your desire then to pursue, to collaborate, something out of what is left of the TPP?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

How many seconds do I have to respond to that, Mr. Chair?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

With all due respect, everybody wants to hear this one. You have at least 30 seconds.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

That's good, because I was afraid I'd have two seconds.

At the meeting in Chile we said we have tasked our officials to look at various options. We recommitted to rules-based trade and open trade in the Asia-Pacific region. A number of countries around the table wanted to take the various options under advisement and ask the officials to come back with options to be discussed in Vietnam. That's the process that was laid out, because different nations were at different places with respect to the best options to follow. A number of options were on the table, but they wanted to seek officials' counsel before they committed at the table. I expect we will hear more about that when we meet in Vietnam. That's the process we have agreed to.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Thank you. Those are good questions and good answers, and away we go.

We're over to the Conservatives—oh, we're still finishing this round. We still have Liberals, and they're going to split the time.

Madam Ludwig and Mr. Fonseca, go ahead.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Thank you, Mr. Minister, for joining us today.

As you know, I represent the riding of New Brunswick Southwest in Atlantic Canada, and there was definitely much excitement and discussion about the trade opportunities within the fish and seafood sector. There are reports that lobster fishers in Maine are none too happy about Canada's new-found access to the European market. Should Canadian fish and seafood producers see opportunity as a tariff-free springboard to greater markets?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

I'm happy you asked that question, because when I was in London, I made the headlines talking about lobster and maple syrup. I was on Nick Robinson's show on BBC in the morning. They asked me for a very concrete example, and I said lobster. Fishermen today who export lobster to the European Union would have a tariff of up to 25%, and with a provisional application, these tariffs would go down to zero. I used that example to say we have 9,000 tariff lines, which will come down to zero on day one of the provisional application of CETA. This was a very clear example when you're asking what that would do for people.

You look at consumers and you think that should lead to better choices and better prices. It looks at exporters. I think our fishing and seafood industry is looking at that favourably, obviously, because this is opening up a new market, which was obviously extremely difficult to enter with the tariff that high, and it's also looking at workers, because that should lead to more employment. I think what you were alluding to is that one governor south of Alberta saw that, and I think it's just a reflection of what preferential market access can do for Canadian SMEs and Canadian businesses.

This is a very clear example of getting preferential market access in Europe, the largest consumer of food products in the world. It is a game-changer for a number of people in this industry and that's exactly the example I used on BBC, which was reported on the front page of The Sun newspaper, that Canadian lobster should now be more freely available and provide more choice and better prices for consumers in England and throughout Europe.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Thank you.

Do I have more time?

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Mark Eyking

Not if you're going to split it.

Go ahead.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Fonseca Liberal Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Minister, in some ways we've been top-heavy in our trade with the United States, our biggest trading partner, and for too long, maybe because things have been easy in some respects, we have not looked to diversify our markets. Now, with a laser-like focus, we have a tremendous opportunity with CETA having gone through the House, being ratified here, and moving toward looking at that market.

When we were on a committee trip out west, we heard from a group in Denver, and what they had to say was amazing. We heard from a corporate lawyer, who would not divulge his client, but he said his client is looking to locate in Canada from Europe, because of CETA. So it's working already. It is already starting to bear fruit. They are in the wind turbine business, locating here, being able to do business also with the United States and vice-versa, looking at us as a gateway.

Can you inform us of the strategy for CETA, as we look to attract more businesses here to Canada from Europe, as well as from the United States now, through Canada into Europe, and looking at Canada as a gateway using CETA as the vehicle?

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

François-Philippe Champagne Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

It's a very interesting question, because when I was in Asia I would say that Canada was almost a bridge between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Very shortly, at the provisional application of CETA, we will have preferential market access to about 1.1 billion consumers, and access to a public procurement market in Europe, which is about $3.3 trillion.

Obviously, to your point, this is being registered around the world. People understand now that Canada, because of its geography, progressive trade agenda, and well-managed economy, is becoming very attractive. These numbers are big.

You start saying to people, whether in the Asia-Pacific or elsewhere in the world, that if they locate in Canada, employ Canadians, and provide services or goods, they will now have access to a very large market in Europe. We have access, obviously, through NAFTA to the U.S. and Mexico, and we are pursuing our trade agenda in the Asia-Pacific. So, Canada is becoming the place of choice.

I have been in different places, and people are saying, just as you did, that locating their business in Canada now makes more sense than ever, as we are becoming this bridge between the Pacific and the Atlantic, and we have, obviously, our very privileged geography of being in North America.

This is something that resonates. I would say, when the committee is travelling.... Those are the types of messages that we need to repeat when we go abroad as Team Canada, because people take note of these numbers. It might sound obvious to us, but when you repeat them, people take notice, and this is to our advantage.