Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the benefits of the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement for all Canadians, and particularly the benefits for the province of Quebec. I am happy to be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Laurent.
For over a year, Canada fought hard while negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. I would actually like to congratulate the negotiators. All of Canada's negotiators are incredible. They successfully managed an extremely complex file and all kinds of political surprises. We knew how important it was to get an agreement that is good, not only for Canadian workers but also for Canadian businesses and our communities, both rural and urban. We did everything in our power to protect jobs, create more opportunities for Canadian workers and their families, and ensure economic growth. We wanted a progressive agreement in terms of the environment and labour.
This paid off for the farmers of the Pontiac and the Gatineau Valley, the forestry workers in Maniwaki and the entrepreneurs in Gatineau, Shawville and Val-des-Monts. The new agreement will benefit not only the people of the Pontiac, but also Quebeckers and Canadians across the country.
In the agriculture sector, Canadian exports will continue to benefit from duty-free access for nearly 89% of U.S. agriculture tariff lines and 91% of Mexican tariff lines, which is extremely important to Canadian exporters, especially those in Quebec and, of course, the Pontiac.
In 2018, Quebec's farmers and food processors exported $5.6 billion worth of goods to the U.S. Quebec exporters will have access to new markets for refined sugar and goods containing sugar, margarine and whey. The government will continue to work with all supply-managed sectors to mitigate any future repercussions of the new NAFTA.
Let us now talk about culture. In the new agreement, Canada has successfully maintained the general exemption for its cultural industries, a key provision that seeks to preserve Canada's cultural sovereignty, which was an important aspect of NAFTA. The cultural exemption fully preserves the latitude Canada has to adopt and maintain programs and policies that support the creation, distribution and development of Canadian artistic expressions or artistic content, including in the digital environment, which is the future of many cultural industries. This result is very important, especially for Quebec. The dynamic information and culture industries account for more than 73,000 jobs in Quebec and nearly 340,000 jobs across the country, which pumped nearly $63 million into the Canadian economy in 2018.
The new agreement preserves the mechanism for dispute settlement by a binational panel that was included in the original NAFTA. This mechanism allows Canada to use an independent and impartial process for challenging American or Mexican anti-dumping and countervailing duties. The mechanism is especially important for Quebec's softwood lumber industry and, of course, for my riding, because exports to the United States reached $1.3 billion in 2018.
The original NAFTA's temporary entry provisions were maintained, providing Canadians with preferential access to the United States for the purposes of providing services or after-sales service or monitoring their investments on the ground. These investments are especially important in advanced manufacturing, such as Quebec's aerospace sector, because it is essential that engineers and other experts be able to travel freely within North America to provide their services.
The agreement also seeks to modernize the disciplines to adapt them to the digital economy, thereby enabling businesses to conduct business across borders electronically, while still maintaining the government's ability to regulate and protect Canadians' personal information.
This modernization is important for the video game industry, which is booming in the Montreal area. It is also important for the region's position as a burgeoning leader in tech innovation and a top destination for investment in artificial intelligence and life sciences. The information, culture and recreational sector in Montreal supports more than 56,000 jobs. The city is becoming a top international hub in this field.
Because the riding of Pontiac has a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises, I also want to point out that this agreement includes a new chapter on SMEs. This chapter will allow for greater co-operation between the three countries, which will open up new markets and increase investment opportunities for small businesses. The new chapter will also ensure that SMEs have access to the information they need on how the agreement works and what obligations it imposes. This chapter is of particular importance to Quebec, where SMEs accounted for 99.7% of all businesses in 2019.
We must not forget that a progressive approach was taken in negotiations for the new NAFTA. We were sometimes ridiculed by the opposition for that. We always wanted the agreement to be progressive on environmental and labour matters.
I would now like to highlight these matters. The labour chapter is robust and fully subject to the dispute settlement provisions of the agreement. It aims to improve labour standards and working conditions in each of the three countries, based on internationally recognized labour principles and rights.
For example, the labour chapter includes new provisions prohibiting the importation of goods produced by forced labour, imposes obligations related to discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, combats violence against workers who are exercising their trade union rights, and ensures that migrant workers are protected under labour laws. To ensure a timely response to cases of labour rights violations related to collective bargaining and freedom of association, the agreement also includes an innovative rapid response mechanism between Canada and Mexico.
On the environmental front, the agreement strengthens and modernizes the environmental provisions by incorporating them into an environment chapter that is ambitious, comprehensive and enforceable. This chapter sets out a mandatory, enforceable dispute resolution process for all compliance issues. When the countries cannot agree on the method of consultation and co-operation, it provides for recourse to the agreement's more general dispute resolution mechanism. The agreement also includes new obligations to address global environmental challenges, including the following important obligations: combatting the illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging and illegal fishing; promoting sustainable forest and fisheries management, in particular through a commitment to prohibiting subsidies that negatively affect fish stocks; preserving species at risk; implementing relevant multilateral environmental agreements; and taking measures to protect the ozone layer and prevent marine pollution.
I would also like to mention that the much-criticized chapter 11 on investor-state dispute settlement was scrapped for Canada. In addition, the chapter on investment includes a provision on corporate social responsibility.
We can see that this new agreement is full of progressive elements. I could have mentioned the aspects related to trade and indigenous peoples. I hope I will get questions about that. I could also have talked about trade and gender. Those are some very interesting aspects.
In closing, I am very pleased that our officials and our negotiators were able to negotiate the best possible agreement. This agreement will be good for Canada, for our economy, for the environment, for our workers and for our SMEs.