Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my constituents of Kitchener South—Hespeler for electing me to this place. I also want to thank everyone who volunteered on the campaign, everyone who worked in the constituency office and the strangers who offered me water when I was campaign. I could not be here without them and all their hard work.
Canada is among the top automotive producing countries of the world. The motor vehicle manufacturing industry directly employs nearly 137,000 Canadians and indirectly employs nearly 420,000 people in sales and market services. The majority of the vehicles produced in Canada are exported, and over 90% of our automotive exports are sent to the United States.
Given the importance of our automotive trading relationship with the United States, a key government objective throughout the negotiations of the new NAFTA was to ensure the agreement continued to provide the industry with stability and opportunities for growth. This included maintaining duty-free access to the United States and Mexico, ensuring the rules of origins met the needs of the Canadian producers and securing an exemption from potential U.S. section 232 tariffs on automotive goods.
I want to take some time to talk a little about my riding. I am from Kitchener South—Hespeler. Toyota Motor Manufacturing is within my riding. Not too far down the 401 is another Toyota manufacturing plant, in Woodstock. Between the two plants, they employ 8,000 employees. Just a couple of years back, in 2018, there was a $110-million investment allotted to Toyota through the strategic innovation fund. This helped to support 8,000 jobs, to create 450 new jobs, and will create another 1,000 new co-ops.
Also, in April 2019, Toyota announced it would be building the new Lexus NX and NX hybrid in Cambridge as of 2022. This is the first line of Lexus SUVs that will be built outside of Japan. It is great to see that it will be in my hometown riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler.
The rules of origin are the criteria used to determine whether a good has undergone enough production in the North American region to receive preferential tariff treatment. These rules ensure that the benefits of the agreement go to the North American workers and producers. The final outcome on rules of origin meets Canada's objective and has broad support from all segments of the automotive industry.
However, it was far from clear during the early stages of the negotiations if we would able to achieve an acceptable outcome. Initially, a series of proposals were put forward that Canada believed would have undermined North American integration in the sector and done lasting damage to automakers and parts producers in Canada and indeed the United States and Mexico. Canada was especially opposed to the proposals that would require every Canadian vehicle exported to the United States to include 50% U.S. content. Canada's position was unequivocal on this point. There were no circumstances under which the proposal would be accepted.
In response, Canada put forward a counter-proposal designed to encourage production and sourcing in North America. These ideas were instrumental in reaching an agreement on new rules of origin, which will incentivize the use of North American-produced materials and support the long-term competitiveness of the North American automotive industry.
In order to benefit from the preferential tariff treatment under the new agreement, automobiles must meet a number of requirements: 75% originating content for the finished automobile and core auto parts like engines, transmissions and bodies; 70% of the steel and aluminum purchased by automakers qualify as originating; and 40% labour value content.
The 70% aluminum and steel requirements did not exist under the original NAFTA. This requirement will apply to all vehicles traded among the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement when the new agreement enters into force. Certain elements of the requirements were expanded upon as a result of the December 10, 2019, amendments to the agreement. After seven years, the steel purchased will have to undergo more manufacturing in North America in order to fulfill the 70% requirement.
In addition, after 10 years the parties will evaluate whether the aluminum requirement needs to be further strengthened in a similar way.
The labour value content provision means that 40% of the value of the vehicle must be from a plant where the workers earn an average wage of $16 U.S. an hour or more. Wages in automobile assembly facilities and parts production plants located in Canada exceed this threshold, which will help improve Canadian automotive manufacturing competitiveness.
Throughout the negotiations, consultations were held with Canadian producers of both vehicles and parts, industry associations and the union that represents Canadian auto workers. All of the proposals put forward by Canada were based on extensive consultations, and the final outcome has the support of Canadian stakeholders.
Regrettably, overshadowing these negotiations were threats by the United States to impose tariffs of up to 25% on automobiles and auto parts imported to the United States. These threats were real, as section 232 of the United States Trade Expansion Act, 1962, provides the means to impose restrictions on those imports that are deemed to pose a threat to U.S. national security.
The notion that Canadian autos and auto parts could pose a threat to U.S. national security was inconceivable. Canada strongly rejected this notion at all levels. As well, our negotiating team and the media mentioned that it was absurd that Canada was a national security threat to the United States.
At the same time, it was clear that the prospects of a tariff as high as 25% on Canadian automobiles and auto parts would be a significant challenge for Canada-U.S. trade relations and the Canadian economy. As a result, Canada was steadfast in its position that an exemption from section 232 measures on automobiles and auto parts was necessary as part of the negotiations. This exemption was secured through a binding side letter to the new agreement that took effect November 30, 2018.
Should the United States impose section 232 tariffs, the side letter guarantees an exemption from such tariffs for 2.6 million Canadian automobiles annually. It also guarantees an exemption of $32.4 billion worth of Canadian auto parts exported to the United States annually. In addition, the side letter guarantees that Canadian light trucks, such as pickup trucks, are fully exempt from any section 232 tariffs and do not count against the annual exemption of 2.6 million automobiles.
These levels are significantly higher than Canada's exports of automobiles and auto parts to the United States, thereby providing significant room for growth in Canadian production and export of vehicles and parts, even in the event of U.S. section 232 tariffs on these goods.
As a part of the negotiations, Canada also secured a commitment from the United States to provide at least a 60-day exemption to Canada for any future measure under section 232, including for automobiles and auto parts. This side letter also took effect November 30, 2018.
In closing, I will reiterate the importance of Canada's automotive industry to Canada's economy. The sector is heavily integrated within a broader North American economy, and its ability to trade freely in North America is imperative to its success. This is why we worked tirelessly towards achieving outcomes in the new NAFTA in support of this sector. As a result, the future prospects of the Canadian automotive sector are very bright.
The industry is competitive and innovative, the quality of our workforce is second to none, and Canada has preferential market access to the United States, Mexico, Europe and key markets in Asia, together with 14 free trade agreements covering 51 countries that connect us to 1.5 billion consumers worldwide. Canada is the only G7 nation with trade agreements with all other G7 nations. The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement is central to Canada's trade with the world, and the automotive sector is central to this agreement.
The new NAFTA maintains tariff-free trade, strengthens the rules of origin and removes the threat of new and prohibitive section 232 measures. It also provides Canadian industry with the stability and market access certainty it needs to grow and continue to provide high-quality, well-paying jobs for tens of thousands of Canadians.
I want to mention that I am very much in support of the bill and I hope other members in the chamber are supportive of it. On average, the Canadian auto sector manufactures one car every 30 seconds, supports over 500,000 jobs and contributes $18 billion annually to our economy.