Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my friend from Bow River. I would also like to thank my colleague from Abbotsford for leading our official opposition on this very important file.
I rise today to speak on the opposition motion regarding the trans-Pacific partnership, or the TPP. However, before I start, I would like to begin with a little quote from January 2014, when a member said that she supported “a...more ambitious, wider reaching...which fully and ambitiously integrates Canada into the global economy.” Who said that? The Minister of International Trade in her maiden speech in the House of Commons when she was a member of the third party.
That sounds a lot like the trans-Pacific partnership to me. It is a multinational trade agreement, which we all know represents 35% or more of the global economy, and this agreement will open up markets across the Asia-Pacific region to Canadians, including markets in Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
As a member of the Conservative caucus, I strongly support the TPP and this motion. It has the potential to unlock massive and growing markets for Canadian exports across all industrial sectors. I, too, hope my colleagues will support this motion to ensure the ratification of the TPP and the protection of Canadian jobs.
The TPP represents a market of almost 800 million new consumers with a combined GDP of $29 trillion and represents 35% of the global GDP. However, without ratification of this agreement, Canada stands to lose billions of dollars worth of trade opportunities. The importance of this agreement and the ratification cannot be overstated.
In 2014, Canada's exports to TPP countries accounted for 81% of the total value of Canadian exports, worth about $759 billion. This agreement would set the rules for trade in the Asia-Pacific region for generations.
The government has an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this agreement and help shape it moving forward, to ensure Canadian businesses and workers are on a level playing field with their competitors in the Asia-Pacific region. As a mid-sized economy, Canada and Canadians prosper when there are multilateral rules to protect its economic interest.
In the most recent budget, the Liberals are planning to run multi-billion dollar deficits, as we all know, but through the trade opportunities in the TPP, we can grow our economy without spending billions of taxpayer dollars that we do not have. That is why we are calling on the Liberal government to make a decision on the TPP agreement by June 29 for the North American leaders summit in Ottawa.
Endorsing the TPP will send a clear signal to Canadian businesses, allowing exporters to have the opportunity to prepare and take advantage of this market access, with lower tariffs and further integration of global supply chains.
Canada cannot afford to be protectionist. We are a trading nation, and many jobs rely on that trade. We cannot afford to turn our backs on the opportunities available through the TPP. We need to only look back over the last few years during the global economic slowdown to see how damaging a protectionist mentality could be to the economy.
Some of the world's biggest economies, the biggest traders became sworn enemies of trade. Buy American was our biggest trading partner's plan, then France first, even China started to implement their own domestic-only plan.
What is clear is that growing our access to major economies and emerging markets clearly demonstrates long-term gains for Canada and the rest of the world. Instead of appearing in shows in Hollywood, the Minister of International Trade needs to demonstrate leadership on this file. While many believe it is important to showcase herself to Americans, Canadians are worried about their jobs and need a government that will work to create opportunities to protect their livelihood.
I was pleased to see in budget 2016 that the government had committed to swift ratification of CETA, “so citizens can quickly reap the benefits of this high quality agreement“.
The European market is vast with more than 500 million potential new customers, and I would hope that the government would also commit to helping our citizens benefit to more than 800 million more new customers that could be accessible by ratification of the TPP.
We have an opportunity to contribute in a significant way to the increase of business channels and embrace the realities of being a player on the world stage. It is time for the Liberal government to be open with Canadians as well as our allies and tell them whether we support the biggest trade agreement in over 20 years.
I would like to quote from budget 2016. It states:
The trans-Pacific partnership (TPP) would offer opportunities to grow Canadian trade with Asia-Pacific countries, enhance North American production and improve job quality in Canada.
If the government agrees with our side about the many merits and benefits of this deal, why does it continue to stall ratification?
A recent study by the Fraser Institute told us that the TPP could boost Canadian exports by $15 billion and could increase Canada's GDP by over $9 billion.
While many sectors and industries would benefit from the TPP, I would like to speak about some of the benefits for the agricultural sector.
The agriculture and the agri-food sector employ close to 2.3 million people and account for 6.6% of Canada's GDP. We are also the fifth largest exporter of agriculture and agricultural food products globally. From 2012 to 2014, those exports to the TPP countries were worth $31.2 billion annually. Exports included canola, wheat, live swine, baked goods, beef, and processed potatoes, and that is just naming a few. These are products are grown right across Canada.
In my riding, agriculture is significant. It is an economic driver that supports many communities. This agreement offers many of those constituents a chance to grow their businesses and prosper. Whether it is beef, pork, wheat, barley, canola oil, processed food, vegetables, wine and spirits, and again just naming a few, producers and exporters all stand to benefit from the TPP.
I have spoken to many of my constituents about this deal. It was a big issue during the recent election campaign. They have expressed the benefits it would have for them and their families. Agricultural and agri-food exporters across the country would see the benefit, again, to having access to 800 million more potential customers.
The TPP would also ensure that Canadian businesses and exporters would have a competitive advantage over competitors from nations outside the TPP.
All of the above statements have shown the many benefits for Canadians from coast to coast to coast if the government ratifies the TPP. From Global Affairs Canada, in Ontario alone:
The TPP will eliminate tariffs on almost all of Ontario’s key exports and provide access to new opportunities in the Asia-Pacific. The TPP also creates strong and enforceable rules that will help Canadians do business in TPP countries–with provisions that will reduce regulatory barriers, increase transparency and reinforce intellectual property rights.
Our previous Conservative government made Canada a global leader in trade liberalization and in the fight against protectionism. Ratifying the TPP at this time gives the Liberals the chance to prove they are really serious about trade. Ratifying the TPP will make Canada the only G-7 nation with free trade access to the United States, the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. That is a huge advantage. It is an important deal. I really hope the Liberals will support our motion.
With the TPP, Canada would have free trade agreements with 51 nations, giving Canadian businesses access to 60% of the global economy, with a significant number of benefits for Canadians. I am really hoping the Liberal government hears our message and supports this motion. If not, I hope the Liberals are ready to explain to Canadians why a government that is allegedly all about supporting the middle class refuses to take action to give Canadians a more competitive chance to compete on the world stage.
Not signing this agreement means we will watch from the sidelines while some of our allies take massive advantage over our products. The cost to the economy will be significant. Domestic layoffs could reveal that protectionist ideology is very short-sighted and extremely damaging.
As I said earlier, with one in five jobs in Canada and 60% of our nation's GDP being directly linked to trade, Canadians cannot afford to be left out of this deal.