Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to speak to the Canada-Honduras trade agreement. I have been listening intently to the other speakers.
First and foremost, it is important to point out, as a previous speaker has already mentioned, that Canada is already trading with Honduras. It is not that we are not doing trade with Honduras and are now exploring this; we are doing millions of dollars in trade with Honduras currently. We are talking about the reduction or elimination of tariffs. That is where we are as far as the debate goes and the essence of the trade agreement.
Once this agreement is in force, nearly 70% of the tariffs that are in place today would be eliminated. Over the length of the deal, which is to be fully implemented within 5 to 15 years, over 98% of the tariffs that are currently in place between us and Honduras would be eliminated. That is important to recognize.
The population is about 8.3 million people. Over the last 25 years, the population has almost doubled. This is a very fast growing country. With countries that are fast growing, there are tremendous opportunities for growth and innovation, certainly for growth in our trade.
The population in Honduras has grown between 3% and 4% for the last number of years, and not only is the population growing, but its economy is growing as well. It is not a very industrialized nation. That in itself presents many more opportunities for Canadian manufacturers, whether it is in plastics, or any other products that may be needed in an economy that is growing, diversifying, and moving forward.
It is also important for people to note that we are not the first country trying to finalize a deal for trade with Honduras. The United States signed its trade agreement with Honduras almost 10 years ago, in 2006. The European Union signed one in 2013. Certainly there is a precedent there, which leads to my next important point, which is that Canada participates in the tariff elimination so our agricultural producers can compete with American producers and enjoy the same opportunity that they do
I will give an example of where that is hurting producers in my riding of Huron—Bruce, with edible soybeans and the lack of a deal with South Korea. There are extremely high tariffs on edible soybeans. The United States has its trade agreement with South Korea, and this is putting producers at a disadvantage in Huron—Bruce today. It means that the premium, not the price, not the basis, but the premium that a producer of edible soybeans would receive, is diminished because of the tariff that is applied to them. That is what we are talking about.
Again, Huron—Bruce is in southwestern Ontario. A lot of beef and pork is grown there. To give the size, scope, and scale just of Ontario, we are looking at about 4.8 million hogs and 600,000 head of cattle per year that are taken to market. There is tremendous opportunity in the red meat sector with this trade deal.
Of note in the last number of years, and I give Jim Clark from Ontario Corn Fed Beef top marks on this, is that a brand of corn-fed beef has been developed that is reaching across the world as a premium product. A lot of the beef producers in Alberta are sweating because they know that corn-fed beef from Ontario is the best. About 55% of the cattle in Ontario are going to this program, and for those producers, there is opportunity.
I should also mention some of the tariffs, on a percentage basis, that some of our producers would experience. Beef and pork are both at 15%.
Another product that could certainly be exported from Huron—Bruce, and from coast to coast, is maple syrup. It is about 10%, on average. We are looking at about 10.5% on agricultural products going into the Honduran market.
We have over $3 million a year in sales to Honduras. There is a great opportunity to grow that by working with people on the ground to knock down those barriers and get more products into the hands of the Honduran people.
I would also note that it is vitally important in a lot of these projects and trade deals, certainly with developing nations, for there to be a world-class port facility. Honduras, fortunately, has a world-class port facility that allows for containers to be shipped in and out. That in itself is also of value. Again, that is likely why we have had a long-term trade relationship with Honduras.
We should not only look at what is in it for Canada on an export basis; we should look at what we are bringing in and the value for the people in Honduras.
There are some products that we as Canadians consume a lot of, which would be coffee, bananas, pineapples, bananas, etcetera. Even though they may not be milk and eggs, for most Canadians these are staples in many of our diets. The reduction of tariffs on those products coming in would be good for Canadians. It would be good for all Canadians, regardless of income and wealth. It would allow their families to put those products on the table at a lower cost than they are today.
If we look at infrastructure, what are some of the issues Hondurans are faced with? They are probably consumed with infrastructure issues, such as roads and bridges, safe drinking water, and sanitary sewers in their cities and reaching into their urban areas, where it is applicable. We have world-class engineering and construction firms here in Canada. I am sure that they are doing business in Honduras right now, but this would allow them to have an expanded role and better opportunities for trade there.
I would like to talk a little more about Huron—Bruce, if I may. Huron—Bruce is a large rural riding in southwestern Ontario. I have mentioned beef and pork production. The area is a huge producer of grains, corn, soy beans, wheat, and other specialty products that may not be common to people from coast to coast.
We have the deepest freshwater port in Lake Huron, which allows for tremendous opportunities. A large amount of grain is shipped in and out of Goderich each and every year, which presents further opportunities. Maybe the Canada-Honduras trade agreement would not change the trade picture in Huron—Bruce overnight, but when we add the cumulative effect of all the trade agreements, it would make a difference for agricultural producers.
We also have the largest inland holding facility for grains, with the Hensall co-op.
I can remember in the 2005 election, back when corn was in the $2 range and farmers were legitimately struggling, one of the commitments we made to our producers was something we heard from them. They did not want to earn their living from the mailbox. They wanted to earn their living from the marketplace. I am proud to say that eight or nine years later, that is what they are doing. It is not only because of the trade agreements. There are a lot of other factors that go along with it. However, these trade agreements have added up and made significant improvements to the situation for our producers.
We can take a look at the price of a great number of commodities and look at where they have gone. We can take a look at a great number of farmland values and how they have increased since 2005. This is all because what we are trying to do is set up markets, reduce barriers, and work with other countries. We work with their veterinarians and food inspection agencies so that when a food issue comes up, they can react quickly and know that we have mechanisms here in Canada to protect the export of our food and food products. We have done that.
One other product I have not mentioned is the great hardwood lumber that comes out of Huron—Bruce. It is world-class hardwood maple, oak, and cherry. There are great products coming out. There is walnut as well, whether veneer or hardwood flooring. These are products that would now have the tariffs reduced. I believe on wood products it is around 15%. We will see that reduced.
As these are reduced, our products will become more competitive with the U.S. and with the European Union. That is good for Canadians, it is good for Canadian producers, and it is certainly good for a riding like mine, Huron—Bruce.
I am glad to take questions from the opposition.