Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to talk about the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement and the many benefits it would bring to our agriculture and agri-food producers and exporters.
First I would like to emphasize that our Conservative government clearly understands that our standard of living and Canadians' future prosperity will be generated by deepening and broadening our trading relationships, which is something missing from the comments earlier today by the Liberals and the New Democrats. That is why our government is committed to securing and deepening access to traditional markets such as the United States while broadening and expanding access to dynamic and fast-growing economies around the world.
Pursuing new trade opportunities is a win-win situation for Canada and its trading partners. Canadians benefit from the jobs, prosperity, and consumer benefits that come from increased trade. In turn, our international partners, many of which represent developing countries, benefit from the ever-expanding middle class and improved standard of living that is lifting more of the world's population out of poverty. This was mentioned earlier today by the member for Mississauga South in her comments.
We are also creating new opportunities for our exporters, opportunities that are bringing jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity to hard-working Canadians.
As Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector becomes more modern, innovative, and competitive, the sector is becoming a more significant part of Canada's economy. In fact, in 2012 the agriculture and agri-food industry accounted for one in eight jobs in Canada, which translated to employment for more than two million Canadians. It also accounted for 8% of Canada's gross domestic product.
In 2012 our overall agriculture and agri-food exports exceeded $44 billion, ranking Canada the fifth-largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food products in the world. That is why our government continues to work tirelessly to improve access to international markets for our agricultural exporters.
Whereas the Liberals completed only three trade agreements over their 13 years in government, in eight years Canada has signed or concluded new free trade agreements in 38 countries, including Colombia; Jordan; Panama; Peru; the European Free Trade Association, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland; Honduras; the 28 members of the European Union; and, most recently, South Korea. Sadly, the ideologically driven NDP has consistently opposed these agreements.
The Canada-Honduras free trade agreement we are debating here today is an example of the actions our government is taking to support Canadians as they compete and win in the global economy. Our government will ensure that Canadian agriculture and agri-food producers and exporters remain competitive with exporters to Honduras, and I want to emphasize why this is so important.
As members of this House are aware, Honduras has also concluded free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union. The United States is Canada's biggest competitor in Honduras, and many Canadian exports are in direct competition with those of the United States. Canadian products are now at a competitive disadvantage, as they continue to face duties, while exports from the United States enjoy duty-free access. Over 87% of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial goods to Honduras are now entering duty free.
Our government will not let Canadians compete on an unlevel playing field. It is time this House passed this agreement.
Our agreement with Honduras is a comprehensive agreement that covers market access for goods, including agriculture and agri-food products. Some of these products include Canada's high-quality beef, pork, wheat products, frozen french fries, malt, maple syrup, pulses, whisky, canola seed, and canary seed. These products would enter Honduras duty free upon implementation of this FDA. This is welcome news for our agriculture and agri-food industries and for our exporters.
For instance, our beef and pork exporters could take immediate advantage of restored access to the Honduran market following the recent approval of the Canadian meat inspection system. Our pork sector would also reap benefits from an FTA with Honduras. Canada's exporters of purebred breeding swine, swine genetics, and pork offal would benefit from the immediate elimination of Honduran tariffs of up to 15%. As well, cuts of Canada's fresh, chilled, and frozen pork would gain from immediate duty-free access. Our pork industry is optimistic about the potential for an increase in our pork exports to Honduras.
Canada's exporters of frozen french fries would also benefit from the immediate elimination of Honduran tariffs of 15%. Likewise, our pulse exporters would benefit not only from the immediate elimination of tariffs ranging from 10% to 15% but also from the eventual removal of tariffs of up to 30% within the next 10 years.
I have outlined only some of the benefits of the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement for Canadian agricultural exporters and their producers. Suffice to say, the Canada-Honduras agreement is excellent news for the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector.
This agreement would support more Canadian jobs by enhancing our ability to export more goods and services to this market, including agricultural goods. Expanding Canada's trade and investment ties around the world will help protect and create new jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians.
All these initiatives are critical to the economic future of our country, yet they are also a representation of Canada's past. Canada has always been a trading nation. This year we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Twenty years ago, trade within the North American region was over U.S. $288 billion. In 2012, total trilateral merchandise trade reached nearly $1.1 trillion. That is nearly a fourfold increase.
Canada is now the top export destination for 38 out of 50 U.S. states. Of course, the U.S. remains by far the top export destination of all provinces. Over eight million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada, and over 2.4 million Canadian jobs, one in seven, depend on exports to the U.S.
NAFTA has provided a solid foundation for Canada's future prosperity on which Canada continues to build to advance North American trade and competitiveness.
Canada has also punched above its weight when it comes to multilateral trade. By continuing to actively pursue broader market access and new investment opportunities, we are providing Canadian businesses and exporters with access on preferred terms to the largest, most dynamic, fastest-growing economies and regions around the world. That is why the implementation of this free trade agreement, and all free trade agreements, is a priority for this government.
I ask hon. members in the House to support Bill C-20.