Mr. Speaker, I am delighted with this opportunity to rise today on Bill C-13, which is legislation that would reinforce our government's already strong track record on trade.
The bill before us would make a variety of amendments to other laws, so that Canada could implement our commitments under the World Trade Organization's agreement on trade facilitation, or TFA for short.
The TFA is groundbreaking in many ways. It is the very first multilateral trade agreement concluded since the creation of the WTO over 20 years ago. More importantly, it is the very first time in WTO history that developed and developing countries have recognized that each commitment within an agreement should be linked to each country's ability to implement it. Specific provisions are set out to help least developed and developing countries. It is about better trade.
At the heart of Bill C-13 and the TFA are the commitments I believe all of us share, to see more open borders and the freer movement of goods and services around the world. It is also about freer trade.
As the Prime Minister has said, today's world is full of challenges, but there are also tremendous opportunities with the opening of new markets, the growth of developing countries, and the emergence of new technologies, and of sustainable development.
This is one reason our government is pursuing a progressive trade agenda. It is also one reason the Prime Minister committed to the expeditious ratification of the TFA during his meeting with G20 leaders in Antalya.
The TFA will help to enhance global trade by putting measures in place to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods across international borders. It also contains provisions to encourage closer co-operation between customs officials at the border.
Overall, the WTO estimates that the trade facilitation agreement will lower trade costs by more than 14% for low income countries, and by more than 13% for upper middle income countries by streamlining the flow of goods across borders. Therefore, I urge all hon. member to support this bill before us today.
We all know that from the early days of the fur trade to today, Canada has always been a trading nation. Canada has made a name for itself in green and renewable technologies, pharmaceutical products, and the aerospace sector. In fact, trade is as much a part of our national and provincial identities as hockey, and certainly more so than the Leafs.
Today, trade represents 60% of Canada's annual gross domestic product, and one Canadian job in five is tied to exports. Trade leads to wage increases and a higher standard of living. Furthermore, it helps companies create better paying jobs, increases the number of middle-class families, and makes them more prosperous.
That is why our government is going to such great lengths to increase market access for business people and investors across Canada. Our efforts will also create new opportunities for Canadian companies and workers.
With our progressive trade agenda we are making every effort to create opportunities and foster prosperity for all through the liberalization of trade and the opening of borders and markets.
Canada's trade agenda emphasizes the role of women, indigenous groups, and small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the role of a diverse population that is connected with the rest of the world. This agenda also seeks to place environmental protection and labour protection at the heart of our efforts, right from the outset. It seeks to ensure that the middle class and those working hard to join it truly benefit from the trade spinoffs both in Canada and abroad.
It is about progressive, ethical, and greener trade.
Our comprehensive economic and trade agreement, or CETA, with the European Union clearly shows that an inclusive and progressive trade agenda tailored to the 21st century is possible. Our focus now is getting this gold standard deal signed this year and implemented early next year, so that Canadians and Europeans can take full advantage of the benefits. The Minister of International Trade has on numerous occasions met with our European friends and partners to help ensure that we accomplish just that.
Canada is pleased to be moving forward with CETA ratification now that the legal scrub of the English text has been completed. We fully support the modifications that were recently made to its investment chapter. These changes reaffirmed and strengthened the right of governments to regulate in important areas like labour, health, and the environment. The changes also modified the dispute resolution system in a way that makes it more transparent, independent, and impartial with high ethical and procedural standards.
Our government's progressive trade agenda is also focused on strengthening our long-standing friendship and trading relationship with the United States and Mexico. The minister has already had some great productive meetings with her counterparts in the U.S. as well as with several key Mexican and U.S. decision-makers in Washington.
The minister also visited Mexico City this week where she held bilateral meetings with Mexican government and business leaders while also meeting with the Council of Ministers of the Pacific Alliance to sign a joint declaration with member countries to reaffirm the ties of friendship, solidarity, and co-operation between our countries and making Canada the first observer to enter into a strategic partnership with one of the most important economic blocks in the Americas.
Not long after being appointed Minister of International Trade, the minister represented Canada at the tenth WTO ministerial conference in Nairobi. Among the many other issues, the members of the WTO agreed on a series of development measures that will help the less developed nations integrate into the global trading system and benefit from it.
These measures include preferential rules of origin for least-developed countries and commitments to help them participate in global trade services. I know that we are all in favour of these objectives and the general work that the WTO does. Trade can lift millions of people out of poverty, as was the case for India and China.
Trade can also promote investment, innovation, and technological changes that are all essential to sustainable development. Trade is not just synonymous with exporting goods and services. It means working together to meet the needs of people and societies grappling with long-standing problems such as poverty, and new problems such as the repercussions of climate change.
In both developed and developing countries, trade can play a significant role in strengthening the middle class, which is a top priority for Canada's new government. Most importantly, trade can lead to transformation. For years, the WTO has recognized that opening markets is not an end in and of itself. Open trade is a function of our values. It is one of our central objectives, as set out in the WTO's founding document.
Among our many objectives are raising the standard of living, creating more meaningful jobs, achieving full employment, ensuring the sustainable use of global resources, and protecting the environment.
I already talked about reducing poverty. More open trade can contribute to the spread of innovative technology and help groups in rural regions and people with low incomes in developing countries take part in the global economy. As we all know, global value chains can augment the benefits derived from trade in terms of the economy and resources. Open trade can also help address inequality among people and promote women's economic independence to a significant degree.
Today, there are nearly one billion women around the world who could be contributing more robustly to their economies were they trained or allowed to do so.
Seen in this light, closing the gender gap would be equivalent to adding a new China or a new India to the global economy. We simply cannot afford to sit idly by and not seize the potential or the fairness of this tremendous opportunity.
The trade facilitation agreement, which the legislation before us will implement in Canada, can be an important catalyst for achieving these goals. Lower trade costs along with enhanced timeliness and predictability in the delivery of intermediate goods will drive growing participation by SMEs in world trade as the high cost of international trade disproportionately affects small and medium-sized enterprises as well as developing nations.
Helping SMEs reduce their trading costs will also benefit women in developing countries, as the World Bank estimates that 8 million to 10 million SMEs in the developing world have at least one female owner.
In general, implementation of the TFA is expected to deliver an unprecedented and significant stimulus to the world economy. The WTO estimates that the boost in global trade resulting from the entry into force of the TFA could create around 20 million jobs worldwide by 2030, with the majority located in developing countries.
Canadian and international stakeholders, including the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and nearly all agriculture and agrifood associations, have voiced widespread support for this agreement.
To date, 81 members of the WTO have ratified the trade facilitation agreement, or TFA for short, including some of our major trading partners like the U.S., the European Union, China, and Japan. They expect Canada to do the same without delay. Another 27 countries need to ratify the agreement for it to come into effect.
The legislative changes in Bill C-13 are necessary to the ratification of this agreement in Canada. These changes aim to protect the health and safety of Canadian consumers and workers, as well as the environment, in the event that goods in transit are diverted into the Canadian market. They also aim to clarify the practices for dealing with rejected goods.
Canada is committed to promoting prosperity around the world and helping the poorest and most vulnerable people reap the benefits of economic growth when it comes to reducing poverty. Canada can do its part by ratifying the TFA as quickly as possible.
I therefore urge all hon. members on that committee to support the legislative amendments contained in Bill C-13 so that Canada can do its part to ensure the agreement is fully implemented.