Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for sharing her time with me.
It is a pleasure and honour to rise in the House to talk about the benefits of the Canada-Panama free trade agreement and what it would bring to Canadian workers and their families from coast to coast to coast.
With one in five Canadian jobs generated by trade, we recognize how important our success depends on our ability to access foreign markets and global value chains. Our government received a strong mandate on May 2 to implement an ambitious job-creating free trade plan that will benefit Canadian workers and their families. Our plan is creating jobs and economic growth for Canadian workers and their families. For example, on August 15 of this year, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement came into force. Through that agreement, Canada's producers and exporters will benefit from reduced or eliminated tariffs on nearly all of Canada's current exports to Colombia. This agreement demonstrates our government's commitment to creating good new jobs and economic growth for Canadian families, workers and businesses.
We continue to work to provide Canadian workers and companies with opportunities for growth in key economies. The access to foreign markets and the rules for secure and stable trade and investment across our borders is of key importance. Passing the Canada-Panama economic growth and prosperity act is an important part of this plan. This agreement represents an opportunity for Canadian workers and businesses to expand their operations in the growing and dynamic Panamanian economy.
Although small in size, Panama is a significant player in the region. It is a platform for commercial activity through Latin America and is a nexus for world trade. Canadian workers and businesses want to deepen their ties with Panama, access new commercial opportunities, and further develop their operations in this exciting market. Passing the Canada-Panama economic growth and prosperity act would help our export-oriented industries, investors and service providers do just that.
Many Canadian sectors have already demonstrated their interest in Panama. These include the machinery, motor vehicles and parts, pharmaceutical equipment, pulse crops, and other sectors. Our agreement with Panama would give these and other exporters enhanced access to the Panamanian market, addressing both tariff and non-tariff barriers. The agreement would offer tangible benefits to Canadians and companies across all regions of this country.
We should consider the prospective benefits to Western Canadian families. This agreement would specifically help my home province of British Columbia, as wood exporters would no longer have to pay Panamanian tariffs of up to 15% on their wood products. It would remove a significant barrier. It would be a great opportunity for British Columbia and the western forestry industry. Exporters of fats and oils would see tariffs as high as 30% eliminated from their products.
Alberta's power generating machinery sector and information and communications technology sector would no longer have to contend with tariffs of up to 15% on their exports to Panama. Agriculture producers in Saskatchewan would see the elimination of tariffs on pulses and cereals, which currently amount to 15% and 40% respectively. In Manitoba, producers of precious stones and metals, as well as iron and steel, would benefit from the elimination of Panamanian tariffs of up to 15% on their exports. In addition, Western Canada's investors that are active in the mining sector in Panama would benefit from this agreement's investor protection and legal framework.
Shifting to the other side of the country, the Atlantic region would also stand to significantly benefit from the Canada-Panama free trade agreement. My hon. colleague, the member for Malpeque, will be especially interested to know that Prince Edward Island potato producers would see the elimination of Panamanian tariffs as high as 81% on their exports. I think that would make our folk legend, Stompin' Tom Connors, sing about Bud the Spud from the bright red mud rolling down the highway smiling, because the spuds are big in the back of Bud's rig and they are from Prince Edward Island. There would be more spuds rolling down to Panama if we get this agreement through the House.
In New Brunswick, producers of frozen french fries would no longer face Panamanian tariffs of up to 20%. Paperboard producers would see the elimination of tariffs reaching up to 15%.
Nova Scotian exporters of trees and plants will see the elimination of tariffs of up to 15% and tariffs of up to 20% will be eliminated for vehicles and parts exporters.
In Newfoundland, the information and communications technology sector will see the elimination of Panamanian tariffs of up 15% on Canadian products.
That is not all. The benefits of this free trade agreement will also be felt in Ontario, where key exports to Panama include pharmaceuticals, industrial and electrical machinery, vehicles and scientific and precision instruments. For pharmaceutical products, tariffs as high as 11% will be eliminated. Exporters of industrial and construction machinery, information and communications technology, electronic equipment and precision instruments will see the elimination of tariffs as high as 15% for their respective sectors.
In addition, Ontario service providers active in this market, including those providing mining, banking and engineering services, will benefit from a secure, predictable, transparent and rules-based trading environment, something we have heard about over and over from Canadian businesses. They want secure, predictable, transparent and rules-based trading. They will have the advantage of being able to plan for the future.
For Quebec exporters, investors and service providers interested in expanding into the Panamanian market will receive real, tangible benefits from the implementation of the free trade agreement. With $25.7 million in merchandise exports to Panama last year, Quebec accounts for the largest share of Canada's two-way trade with Panama. These exports are primarily in the areas of meat, mainly pork, paper and paperboard, pharmaceuticals, fish and seafood and electrical machinery and equipment.
Quebec's automotive sector will enjoy improved access for vehicles and auto parts, with tariffs of up to 20% eliminated. Quebec's pork producers will see the elimination of tariffs as high as 70%.
For Quebec's highly competitive aerospace sector, current Panamanian tariffs of up to 15% will be eliminated. Tariffs as high as 15% on pulp and paperboard will be eliminated.
As the Forest Products Association of Canada has testified in the Standing Committee on International Trade, the Panamanian market for forestry products such as pulp and paperboard is currently worth $120 million, but this figure grows by 10% a year, a great opportunity for the forest products industry.
Canada currently only exports $6.5 million in these goods, so there is significant room for growth and this tariff elimination will help considerably. In particular, it will help Quebec plants that supply a large quantity of the Canadian paper to Panama.
Quebec's service providers will benefit as well. For instance, SNC Lavalin, a company with substantial interests in Panama, has indicated that the Canada-Panama free trade agreement will “provide a good framework for further business”.
In 2010, Panama announced a $13.6 billion strategic investment plan that would focus on economically sustainable infrastructure projects, including a $1.5 billion metro system and an airport project that will triple its current capacity.
As we can see, the passage of the Canada-Panama economic growth and prosperity act will provide economic benefits to Canadian workers across the country from coast to coast to coast and across a wide number of industries and sector. It will provide new business opportunities for exporters countrywide, from forestry workers in British Columbia to farmers in Ontario, from information and communications technology providers in Newfoundland to manufacturers in Quebec.
We live in an era of global competition. Succeeding in the global economy means keeping pace with competitors and securing new access to foreign markets. There is no question that Canadian companies are world competitors, but the government has a role to play as well.
We need to strengthen Canada's trading relationships abroad, eliminate barriers to trade and provide opportunities for Canada's businesses to expand and grow in key markets. Our government is doing just that. We are fighting for Canadian workers and businesses to connect them with new opportunities in growing markets like Panama and to ensure they are not at a competitive disadvantage, vis-a-vis competitors benefiting from preferential market access.
With one in five jobs and over 60% of Canada's economy generated by trade, deepening Canada's trading relationships will create prosperity and opportunity for Canadian businesses, workers and their families.
While we are focused on protecting and growing Canada's economy with our job-creating, pro-trade plan, the anti-trade NDP wants to slap job-killing tax hikes on families and employers, which would kill jobs, hurt our economy and set families back. We cannot allow that to happen.
For this reason, this Conservative government and this party will be supporting the Canada-Panama economic growth and prosperity act.