Mr. Speaker, our government believes that the Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement will lead to increased prosperity in Canada, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen the middle class. Most importantly, it will do so in a fair and responsible way.
I believe we can all agree that the opening of new markets has the potential to increase Canadian wealth. Our country's small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up the majority of Canada's exporters, are looking for our government to open up new markets, and our government is committed to this goal.
SMEs employ some 10 million Canadians, or nearly 90% of Canada's total private sector workforce. These businesses can benefit most from better access in international markets, secured through free trade agreements. Stakeholders from across the country and a wide range of economic sectors continue to tell us to help them to grow. New export sales improve economies of scale, thereby reducing risk, lowering costs, and increasing profits.
In my riding of Fundy Royal in New Brunswick, SMEs will benefit significantly from CETA. The EU is already New Brunswick's second largest export destination and fourth largest trading partner. This agreement would eliminate tariffs on almost all of New Brunswick's key exports, in addition to opening up new market opportunities.
New Brunswick's fish and seafood sector is a vibrant and diversified industry. Eliminating tariffs on value-added goods like cooked and peeled shrimp, frozen cod fillets, and processed crab and lobster will make these goods more competitive in the EU, allowing New Brunswick processors to sell more of their goods and create new jobs. By the opening of new markets and increased access within the EU, Canada's world-class fish and seafood industry would have a competitive advantage from CETA that would benefit workers in the fish and seafood sector from coast to coast, including workers in New Brunswick's exceptional fish industry.
Of the EU's more than 9,000 tariff lines, approximately 98% will be duty free for Canadian goods when CETA comes into force. Almost all of the remaining tariff lines will be eliminated when the agreement is fully implemented. This will translate into increased profits and market opportunities for Canadian businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, and in every part of the country.
CETA will provide Canadian companies with a first-mover advantage in the EU market over competitors from markets like the U.S., which do not have a trade agreement in place with the EU. It will allow Canadian businesses to establish customer relationships, networks, and joint projects first. CETA also offers Canadian SMEs the opportunity to be part of a broader global supply chain anchored in the EU.
One of the most important complements to creating these advantageous conditions for SMEs is to encourage companies to pursue these new opportunities aggressively. Our government is committed to developing trade agreement implementation plans to help Canadian businesses take advantage of the opportunities that flow from these agreements. It is because our government realizes that some Canadian businesses are not aware of the potential opportunities provided by CETA that plans have been developed to promote recently concluded agreements, with SMEs specifically in mind. As a small business owner, I know personally that SMEs often lack the time and resources to inform themselves of game-changing international business developments, such as free trade agreements. As a result, they may not pursue the advantages created by the agreements.
The promotion of new FTAs follows a common, three-part approach. First, we are ensuring that information is available through the web and information seminars for business audiences organized with provincial, territorial, and private sector partners. We have recently launched a new CETA web page, geared toward Canadian businesses, which links to information on export opportunities by sector and member state; explains the public procurement processes in the EU; provides a detailed guide to doing business in the EU; and provides information about events and testimonials from businesses that have already had success in the EU, as well as a guide to finding the tariff rate for Canadian goods. Eventually, an FTA tariff finder will provide tariff information for all of Canada's FTA partners.
We are also undertaking proactive initiatives to reach out to Canadian businesses across the country, and from our missions within the EU, in co-operation with our provincial partners, as well as Export Development Canada, and the Business Development Bank of Canada.
We are launching a series of business outreach events featuring technical experts in CETA who can advise business participants in detail about CETA's provisions and the market access improvements it brings.
Second, we are ensuring through training that our team supporting international business development—be they our trade commissioners in Canada or abroad, other federal government departments or agencies, or our provincial and territorial partners—are fully familiar with the free trade agreements, so that they can advise clients of the opportunities they bring.
The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service has 26 points of service based in our diplomatic missions in the EU to support Canadian businesses wanting to access the market. They offer invaluable assistance to those wanting to do so, through market advice and intelligence. Earlier in 2016 we began building the capacity of our trade commissioners to advise their business clients on CETA, through training sessions on the agreement.
Third, following a detailed assessment, we will work with specialized industry associations and identify priority sectors to increase the interest and knowledge among exporters. This more focused, hands-on approach should lead to higher exports in these high-opportunity areas.
We have consulted with a number of sectoral business associations to explore the development of sectoral strategies, which would identify actions needing to be taken by the private sector to advance export growth. This is in addition to sources of assistance from all levels of support for trade missions and trade fairs, market intelligence from the trade commissioners network, and programs from other government agencies to support product development or expansion capacity.
This more intensive engagement with firms to help them pursue opportunities generated by free trade agreements is what we term "FTA aftercare". Consultations with the private sector are continuing, and a limited number of sectors will be identified to develop a pilot approach.
The promotion of CETA's benefits to the Canadian business community is very much the government's priority, given the range of opportunities that the EU and its market of more than 500 million consumers offer. We recognize that the EU market, despite its size and the significant market access improvements CETA delivers, requires a considerable degree of preparation for exporters, particularly for new-to-market SMEs.
CETA is indeed the most progressive trade agreement ever negotiated. It would lead to increased prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic, create well-paying jobs, and help strengthen the middle class. This agreement clearly provides the advantages that our industries are seeking in expanding their footprint internationally and does so in a fair and responsible manner that would benefit Canadian society as a whole. This is why it is so important for Canada to implement the CETA agreement as soon as possible.