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House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Question No. 196Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

With regard to criminal record checks and vulnerable sector checks performed by the Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for each year between 2006 and 2011 inclusive: (a) how many applications were processed; (b) what was the average and median processing times for all completed checks, for (i) no fingerprint screening, (ii) paper fingerprint screening when there is a match to a fingerprint holding, (iii) electronic fingerprint screening when there is a match to a fingerprint holding, (iv) paper fingerprint screening when there is no match, (v) with electronic fingerprint screening when there is no match; (c) how much funding was allocated by the government for the program; (d) how much funding was collected in user fees; (e) how much funding was used by the program; (f) what are the purposes the clearances are used for; (g) has the government studied the impacts of an increase in the processing time and, if so, what are the results of these studies; (h) what additional information, if any, was required to be collected and analysed compared to the base year of 2006; and (i) which RCMP jurisdictions have digital fingerprint scanners and which do not?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 197Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

With regard to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada funding in the riding of Halifax West for the last five fiscal years: (a) what is the total amount of spending by (i) year, (ii) program; and (b) what is the amount of each spending item by (i) Technical Assistance and Foreign-Based Cooperative Activities (International Trade and Labour Program), (ii) Skills Link (Youth Employment Strategy), (iii) Consultation and Partnership-Building and Canadian-Based Cooperative Activities (International Trade and Labour Program), (iv) Canada Summer Jobs (Youth Employment Strategy), (v) Children and Families (Social Development Partnerships Program), (vi) Labour Market Development Agreements, (vii) Labour Market Agreements, (viii) Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, (ix) Enabling Fund for Official Language Minority Communities, (x) Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, (xi) Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment, (xii) Enabling Accessibility Fund, (xiii) Skills and Partnership Fund--Aboriginal, (xiv) Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, (xv) International Academic Mobility Initiative--Canada-European Union Program for Co-operation in Higher Education, Training and Youth, (xvi) International Academic Mobility Initiative--Program for North American Mobility in Higher Education, (xvii) Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative, (xviii) International Labour Institutions in which Canada Participates (International Trade and Labour Program), (xix) Labour Mobility, (xx) New Horizons for Seniors, (xxi) Career Focus (Youth Employment Strategy), (xxii) Fire Safety Organizations, (xxiii) Organizations that Write Occupational Health and Safety Standards, (xxiv) Social Development Partnerships Program--Disability, (xxv) Foreign Credential Recognition Program Loans (pilot project), (xxvi) Fire Prevention Canada, (xxvii) Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program, (xxviii) Canada-European Union Program for Co-operation in Higher Education, Training and Youth (International Academic Mobility Initiative), (xxix) Labour-Management Partnerships Program, (xxx) Social Development Partnerships Program--Children and Families, (xxxi) Social Development Partnerships Program--Disability, (xxxii) Foreign Credential Recognition Program, (xxxiii) International Trade and Labour Program--Technical Assistance and Foreign-Based Cooperative Activities, (xxxiv) International Trade and Labour Program--Consultation and Partnership-Building and Canadian-Based Cooperative Activities, (xxxv) International Trade and Labour Program--International Labour Institutions in which Canada Participates, (xxxvi) Sector Council Program, (xxxvii) Federal Public Sector Youth Internship Program (Youth Employment Strategy), (xxxviii) Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership Program, (xxxix) Employment Programs--Career Development Services Research, (xl) Career Development Services Research (Employment Programs), (xli) Occupational Health and Safety, (xlii) Youth Awareness, (xliii) Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, (xliv) Homelessness Partnering Strategy, (xlv) Youth Employment Strategy--Skills Link, (xlvi) Youth Employment Strategy--Canada Summer Jobs, (xlvii) Youth Employment Strategy--Career Focus, (xlviii) Youth Employment Strategy--Federal Public Sector Youth Internship Program, (xlix) Apprenticeship Completion Grant, (l) Apprenticeship Incentive Grant, (li) Work-Sharing, (lii) Small Project Component (Enabling Accessibility Fund)?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Notice of Motion for the Production of Paper No. P-7.

Motion No. P-7

That an Order of the House do issue for a copy of all records regarding the Minister of National Defence being picked up in Newfoundland from a fishing lodge on the Gander River and brought to Gander by a Canadian Forces Cormorant in July 2010.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I ask that this notice of motion for the production of papers be transferred for debate.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Service CanadaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

December 14th, 2011 / 3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I call for an emergency debate regarding Service Canada.

As I mentioned in question period earlier today, my constituency office has been inundated with calls, as have the offices of many members of Parliament from all parties, concerning the fact that the processing time at Service Canada has increased exponentially.

In my seven and a half years in Parliament, I have never seen it as bad as this. I am hearing on the ground that for the most part there is a lack of overtime being issued by the department and also a lack of term employees. For example, in my riding in Gander alone it usually gets about 20-plus employees on a term basis, but now it is getting only five this season. That gives members an idea of just how bad this is.

I mentioned earlier about one lady, a single mom with three kids, who was forced to move into her parents place. She has been waiting 42 days, possibly more, for her claim to be processed.

In question period, the minister said that she was working to rectify this and that some of it has already been done. However, I think the debate is necessary to bring clarification on this. If, indeed, Service Canada is putting more resources this December into the local offices, then a debate is necessary in order to bring this out. We could then bring the message to the minister that this is a very grave situation for many people who will not get to enjoy this holiday season.

Service CanadaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I appreciate the hon. member's concern on this file. I have no doubt that he takes this issue very seriously but I do not find that it meets the requirements and the threshold for granting an emergency debate at this time.

Service CanadaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, if I may be so bold, I would like the consent of the House to have a take note debate.

Service CanadaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to grant a take note debate?

Service CanadaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Service CanadaRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There is no consent.

Dear colleagues, as the House will be rising soon and we will be returning to our ridings for the Christmas holidays, I would like to wish all parliamentarians, their staff and parliamentary employees a very merry Christmas and a new year filled with peace and happiness.

However, at this time I would like to draw to the attention of the House that it was on December 30, 70 years ago, when Sir Winston Churchill stood in this chamber and gave his famous, “Some chicken; some neck” speech in the midst of some of the most challenging days of the Second World War. In his address to Parliament, he summoned forth the courage of all free peoples to unite for the monumental challenge that lay before them.

We will be marking that milestone over the Christmas recess and I wanted to bring that to members' attention in advance.

In March, the Library of Parliament will present an exhibit about Churchill's speech to Parliament, in cooperation with the International Churchill Society. I invite members to take the time to celebrate this important historical event.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise in the House today to begin debate on Bill C-23, the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement. Our government is committed to securing and deepening access to traditional markets, like the United States, and broadening and expanding access to more markets, like Jordan.

Trade accounts for over 60% of our annual GDP and, with one in five Canadian jobs generated by trade, it is a matter of fundamental importance to the financial security of hard-working Canadians and their families.

Our focused pursuit of new free trade agreements helps to demonstrate our government's commitment to helping Canadian workers and businesses compete in markets abroad, as well as our commitment to creating more jobs and economic growth for Canadian workers.

We continue to see fierce competition in the global marketplace, with emerging economies and global players continuing to climb the value chain and establishing themselves in a wide range of sectors.

This government will do everything it can to ensure that Canadian workers and Canadian businesses have the tools and opportunities to build the links needed to succeed in today's global economy. Our government is committed to bringing continued economic prosperity to Canadians by pursuing bilateral and regional free trade relationships. Negotiating and implementing trade agreements with our international partners will also help to level the playing field for our companies in an increasingly complex and competitive environment.

Pursuing free trade agreements sends a clear signal that protectionism is not the right way to achieve increased global stability and prosperity. In these challenging times, deeper trade ties are the best way to create jobs and economic growth. Our government will get that done. That is why we have an ambitious, job creating, pro-trade plan. The Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act is a key part of this plan.

The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement also demonstrates Canada's support for an Arab state that, like Canada, supports peace and security in the Middle East.

We will recall that in 2007, the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister joined His Majesty King Abdullah II in a commitment to take our commercial relationship to the next level. The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, along with related agreements on labour co-operation and the environment, signed in 2009, are a direct result of this commitment.

Canada's economy is export driven. Canadian families understand that trade is a kitchen table issue that provides jobs and helps put food on the table. We know it is in our best economic interest to seek out new opportunities for our producers, workers and exporters in as many foreign markets as possible.

Moreover, negotiating free trade agreements allows for Canadian firms to specialize and increase their comparative advantage in the global marketplace. By improving access to foreign markets for Canadian workers and businesses, this government is keeping its commitment to support economic growth and create new jobs for Canadian workers.

In a number of countries, Canadian firms are at a competitive disadvantage because their foreign competitors have preferential market access under some form of a free trade agreement. The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement addresses this serious issue by leveling the playing field with key competitors who are already benefiting from free trade agreements with Jordan, namely competition from the United States and the European Union.

Through the Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act, our government is ensuring that Canadian workers and firms are on equal footing to compete with firms from across the world in the Jordanian market. Opening doors to trade and investment is the right approach for creating opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses in global markets.

The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement would create new export opportunities and strengthen bilateral ties between our two countries.

The free trade agreement with Jordan would benefit both Canadians and Jordanians by giving Canadian and Jordanian exporters unprecedented access to our respective markets and eliminating tariffs on a number of key products. World leading Canadian sectors, like forestry, manufacturing and agriculture and agri-food would benefit.

Over the years, Canada and Jordan have built a strong, mutually beneficial relationship. This free trade agreement continues to build on that important start. It is a relationship grounded in common aspirations, like peace, stability and prosperity for our citizens. This new free trade agreement would help to move these aspirations forward.

Despite the recent economic downturn experienced by the global economy, our bilateral trade with Jordan increased to $85.9 million in 2010 from $82.5 million in 2009, indicating that the longer-term trend of our trade relationship is one of growth.

For example, Canada's 2010 merchandise exports to Jordan of $66 million were more than double the $31 million total in 2003. This free trade agreement would provide the opportunity to further enhance this trend of upward growth.

Jordan's current average applied tariff is 11%, with peaks of up to 30% applied on some Canadian exports of interest. In fact, 67% of Jordan's tariff lines, covering over 99% of Canadian exports, will be eliminated when the agreement is first implemented. This is a huge step forward in the growing economic partnership between Canada and Jordan and will help to ensure that Canadian firms remain competitive globally. Jordan's remaining tariff reductions will then take place over three or five years.

Let me give a better idea of the specific sectors that will benefit if the Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act is quickly moved through the House.

Top exports in 2010 included paper and paperboard, vegetables, wood, vehicles and machinery. In 2010 Canada imported some $20 million in goods from Jordan, including both knit and woven apparel, inorganic chemicals, precious stones, mainly jewellery, and vegetables, cucumbers.

Our trade relationship has clearly been growing, despite Jordan's most favoured nation applied average tariff of 11% and peaks of up to 30% on many key Canadian exports.

The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement aims to remedy this situation and promote continued prosperity for Canadian workers, producers and exporters. Once this agreement is brought into force, Canada will immediately benefit from duty-free access for over 99% of current Canadian exports by value.

What does this new agreement mean for individual exporters? Permit me to run through some specific examples, starting with the agricultural sector. Canadian exporters of pulses, lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas will benefit from the immediate elimination of Jordan's tariffs of 5% to 10% on these products. Of Canada's $7 million of vegetable exports to Jordan in 2010, the majority were lentils and chickpeas, which currently face a 5% tariff, and peas that are subject to a 10% tariff, both of which go to duty-free access immediately upon implementation of the agreement.

In 2010 exports of frozen potato products to Jordan totalled some $88,000. These exporters will benefit from the immediate elimination of a 20% Jordanian tariff and place them on a level playing field with competitors in the U.S. and the E.U., which currently benefit from duty-free access to the Jordanian market.

Canadian beef exporters will benefit from the immediate elimination of Jordanian tariffs, which range from 5% to 23% on all beef products, including fresh chilled frozen and preserved meat and offal and processed products such as sausages and jerky.

Jordan lifted its restrictions on Canadian beef products in February 2009, which will allow this sector to benefit from these lower tariffs.

Animal feed will also benefit from the elimination of Jordanian tariffs of up to 23% and some of these are currently subject to an additional 10% tariff that will be eliminated immediately upon implementation of the free trade agreement.

The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement is certainly more than just agricultural products. The elimination of Jordanian tariffs, ranging from 15% to 30% on certain wood products, could benefit Canadian exporters of doors, frames, joinery, shakes and shingles and other building materials.

Canadian exporters of paper goods, such as toilet paper, paper towels, facial tissues, envelopes, stationery, wrapping paper, boxes and corrugated cardboard, will benefit from the elimination of Jordanian tariffs ranging from 10% to 30%.

With $9.7 million in exports in 2010, mainly light passenger vehicles, Jordan is a growing market for Canadian auto and auto parts exports. The elimination of Jordan's tariffs ranging from 10% to 30% will help Canadian exporters to further expand into this market.

Canada exports a variety of mechanical and electrical machinery to Jordan, $9.2 million in 2010, including heavy construction and mining equipment, communications equipment, filtration or purification devices, pumps, machinery and components. The elimination of Jordanian tariffs, ranging from 10% to 30% on a variety of current and potential Canadian machinery exports, will certainly help our machinery manufacturing sector.

Canada's exports of pharmaceuticals to Jordan totalled just shy of a million dollars in 2010, of which 80% were subject to a 5% Jordanian tariff. That will be eliminated upon implementation of this free trade agreement.

Although Jordan is currently a small market for Canadian fish and seafood exports, the elimination of Jordan's 10% to 30% tariffs on fish and seafood could help Canadian exporters expand their presence in the Jordanian market.

I have to admit that I have covered a lot of numbers, but numbers matter to Canadian workers, producers and exporters. In an increasingly competitive world, lower tariff numbers can make the difference for exporters who are considering whether to expand or enter into a new market.

This growing trade relationship is just one of many reasons why our government continues to work with Canadian businesses to ensure closer commercial ties to the Jordanian marketplace. Our government's work to support Canadian firms doing business in Jordan has been recognized by the business community in Canada and has been met with support from a wide range of businesses, including the Forest Products Association of Canada, the Grain Growers of Canada, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, as well as the Canada-Arab Business Council, all of which appeared before the Standing Committee on International Trade.

Members will remember that our free trade agreement was just one of the agreements we signed with Jordan in 2009. We also signed a bilateral job-creating foreign investment protection and promotion agreement, which came into force on December 14, 2009. This job-creating investment agreement establishes clear rules for investment between our two countries.

Canadian investors are particularly excited about opportunities in Jordan's resource, extraction, nuclear energy, telecommunications, transportation, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors and this job-creating investment agreement provides Canadian and Jordanian investors with the predictability and certainty they need when investing in one another's markets.

I am sure members will agree that this free trade agreement and the 2009 job-creating foreign investment protection and promotion agreement with Jordan are no doubt complementary.

We are living in very challenging economic times and the economy remains our government's number one priority. In order to ensure that our economy continues to grow and continues to be competitive in the global marketplace, trade barriers must be broken down all across the world, through new free trade agreements.

Protectionism is never the answer. Our government believes that Canada's ability to continue to recover from the global economic downturn depends, in large part, on the global trade and investment partnerships that we pursue. That is why we are moving so ambitiously on free trade negotiations with our global partners.

Since 2006, Canada has concluded new free trade agreements with nine countries, most recently, an agreement with Honduras that was announced August 12. Canada is also in discussions with many more countries, including the European Union and India, two of the largest, most promising markets in the world.

This government is dedicated to ensuring that the Canadian economy remains strong through pursuing trade relationships that work for Canadians. This ambitious pro-trade plan is important for Canada.

Passing the Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act will allow for the quick implementation of the free trade agreement with Jordan in order to help Canadian workers and Canadian businesses compete.

Earlier this week, the Canada–Panama economic growth and prosperity act was debated. Unfortunately, the NDP opposed the Canada-Panama economic growth and prosperity act. This should not come as a surprise, as its record is very clear. The NDP has opposed all trade agreements.

Unlike the NDP, our Conservative government is focused on broadening and deepening our trading relationship, as it protects and creates jobs and economic growth for Canadian workers and their families.

I reach out to the NDP and the Liberal Party. We need their support to pass these free trade agreements in the House. They are important for the Canadian economy. They are especially important in these trying economic times. Unfortunately, every time we reach out, we hear the same things in return. The NDP continues to represent some very narrow special interest groups. It continues with its job-killing, anti-trade agenda. It continually invents any reason at all not to support free trade agreements. On Monday, at the end of the day, the NDP said that, once again, it would oppose this agreement.

While we are focused on protecting and growing Canada's economy through our job-creating, pro-trade plan, we continually have to deal with opposition parties that obstruct this. That is the last thing we need. I would urge all my colleagues in the House of Commons to give support for a quick passage of this bill so the international trade committee can begin its work.

We have seen a very clear position come down on the side of the NDP. I do not expect that to be the position of the Liberal Party, the third party in the House. We would hope we do get its support on this bill.

However, let me assure Canadian workers and their families that our Conservative government will be strongly supporting the Canada–Jordan economic growth and prosperity act to ensure we continue to create jobs and economic growth. It is now time to move ahead with the legislation.

Our government and our party will send a clear message to Canadians that continued prosperity for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses is a priority, not just for the Conservative Party but for the House of Commons. The best way to do that is through ensuring a speedy passage of Bill C-23, Canada–Jordan economic growth and prosperity act.

This is important legislation. It was before the House in the last Parliament and it is before the House again. I urge my colleagues to send this to committee as quickly as possible and then send it back to the House post-haste.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, the Conservatives have an unusual way of reaching out. It is usually with the back of their hands to our faces. That is the way they seem to approach the way to build bridges.

I am interested in the Jordan–Canada trade deal and moving this forward, but there are some serious issues with which we have to deal. One of them I will raise during my comments in this debate, and it is the issue of human rights and labour standards. The parliamentary secretary knows this happens in Jordan. Thousands of migrant workers are used in Jordan, 75% of them are women. They are in very abusive conditions.

We will support bringing this to committee and when we do, we want to find some ways, within this legislation, to monitor or improve the labour standards in Jordan, as well as other issues that are dealt with in the bill.

In the spirit of trying to move this bill forward, is the Conservative Party open to looking at whether we can get some tools that will be effective? The United States signed its deal with Jordan and nearly 10 years later, there are still the same problems. Many of the people tried to support and get some changes in Jordan. They were done through voluntary means, as is the case with this bill, but there were no repercussions.

If the Conservative Party is interested in moving this forward, we would certainly be open to it as long as we could include some provisions to monitor the worst parts of this deal.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Madam Speaker, I welcome my colleague from Windsor West as the new trade critic for the NDP. Certainly, it is an extremely important portfolio and one that we would seek to see some substantial change in the position of the NDP.

If we see that change, then certainly our relationship and our comments will change along with that. Until we see that change, I can only consider that the hon. member for Windsor West takes the same position as the former NDP trade critic from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour who said, when the Americans were bringing in prohibitive duties through their buy America act, that would hurt Canadian businesses and trade, and therefore Canadian workers and families. He agreed with them, that they should do it.

That is not acceptable. It is not acceptable in this House or in any other house. It is not acceptable in the households across this country. The issue here is simple. No one is saying that every country in the world has the same level of protection and respect for human rights as all other countries. What we are saying is through engagement and through trade we can advance human rights, we can advance workers' rights, and we can advance environmental respect in every single country on the planet. That is why we continue to pursue free trade agreements around the globe.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I have a question for the parliamentary secretary that might be a little bit off topic and it is in regard to trade.

Trade agreements have the potential to be a wonderful thing and they can be very protective of jobs and secure markets into the future. But because of the timing and because the member is the parliamentary secretary on what is a very important file in the province of Manitoba in regard to the pork industry, with the agreements now between Korea and the United States, the impact this is going to have on our plants in Brandon or the pork industry as a whole is going to be negative.

I am wondering if the member could provide some comments in regard to the pork industry in Manitoba in relation to what is happening between the U.S. and Korea, and the negative impact that is going to have on us. We do not necessarily have to have a trade agreement to be relevant--