Mr. Chair, I rise to speak today in support of the negotiations for a comprehensive economic and trade agreement, a CETA, between Canada and the European Union.
Dialogue on CETA began in 2009 and the fifth round of negotiations concluded recently here in Ottawa. According to all stakeholders, the meetings went very smoothly and more quickly than expected, and we hope that CETA will be complete by 2011.
Comprising 27 member states, with a total population of nearly 500 million, the European Union is the world's largest single market, foreign investor and trader. As an integrated bloc, the EU represents Canada's second largest trading partner in goods and services.
Before discussing the details of CETA, I should point out that we in the Liberal party want multilateral WTO-led trade negotiations to continue, and we want Canada to push harder in promoting multilateralism. We do, however, recognize the practical constraints and difficulties inherent in this. Therefore, if it is impossible to move ahead with multilateral agreements for the time being, we encourage Canada to focus on bilateral agreements, which will enable us to increase our trade with other countries. It is our belief that if the details of these bilateral agreements are properly worked out, that they will not be an impediment to the adoption of future multilateral agreements.
Canada is a nation that supports free trade, indeed one that was founded on trade. Our origins are those of a trading nation, starting with fur, wood and minerals. We have only moved forward from there.
Trade accounts for a significantly greater portion of our overall economic activity than many other nations. Indeed, 80% of our economy and millions of Canadian jobs depend on trade and our ability to access foreign markets.
There are always those on both sides who will advocate for the protection of certain sectors or industries. Some of that is based on some very valid concerns. However, increasingly the idea of protectionism does not recognize global realities. The Liberal Party has in fact called for Canada to embrace and build on the concept of global networks.
This CETA is indeed far more comprehensive than any traditional free trade agreement. It promises so much more. It offers a more comprehensive arrangement, even, than NAFTA. This is critical because trade as we speak of it is now so much more than just the exchange of goods.
The Conference Board of Canada refers to this as integrative trade, the combination of services trade, global and regional value chains, investment and sales by foreign affiliates, flows of people, knowledge and technologies, electronic trade in goods and services, and the linkages between goods and services.
From the Conference Board of Canada:
Instead of asking where to create an entire product or service, businesses now ask where is the best place to locate each unique activity, business function or task: design, engineering, manufacturing, marketing, after-sales service, etc.
Value can be added at each stage of the value chain, and services are integral to the effective functioning of the entire value chain itself. People and the movement of people, knowledge and ideas are in turn integral to the whole.
We Canadians are awfully proud of RIM, the makers of the BlackBerry. It is an excellent example of a globally integrated product. Its hundreds of parts come from all over the world. Again, quoting from the Conference Board of Canada:
Research in Motion's Waterloo factory specializes in new product introduction. This includes building and testing prototypes and scaling up manufacturing of new models ready for market. Then, to reduce manufacturing costs, the company outsources manufacturing to partners in Hungary and Mexico. The company's partners then sell Hungarian-made BlackBerrys to customers in Europe and Asia, and Mexican-made ones in the Americas. Along with the physical BlackBerry, consumers worldwide buy related contracts for data and voice service. As a result, RIM receives service revenues from the wireless carriers—translating into a “meaningful portion” of RIM's revenue. The company also has one physical store in the US, and it provides global after-sales technical support from Canada (Halifax).
This is an example of the foundation of the Liberal Party's emphasis on global networks, that we should increase exchange and co-operation in areas such as financial services; transportation and logistics; higher education, research and development; energy, natural resources and sustainability; health care and health promotion; innovations and best practices; food safety and security; culture, entertainment and tourism; immigration; and so importantly, labour mobility, the exchange of people, knowledge and ideas.
The future of Canada in this competitive world must embrace the new global realities. Our future is not just trade in goods. It is trade in goods, services and services linked to goods, as well as in the value chains associated with all of those together.
Our future is not just in exports across borders to end users. It is in those highly integrated value chains of exports and imports that can cross borders, sometimes many times.
Our future is not just selling products across borders to foreign markets. It lies in finding where we can best contribute in the various value chains, where we in Canada can benefit from other inputs from elsewhere and in embracing the opportunities presented by both.
CETA is good for Canada, because it will allow a much greater level of exchange not only of goods but of services, people, knowledge and ideas. It will allow Canadian enterprises to diversify beyond the United States, upon which we are much too dependent and whose long-term economic strength is questionable.
We must diversify.
There will be challenges, and Canada does need to watch for areas of particular concern to Canadians.
Canadian agriculture and agrifood enterprises, farmers and processors, stand to gain a great deal from increased access to such a large market, but there is major public opinion in Europe against genetically modified organisms, GMOs, much of which is not based in science but is nonetheless very emotional. Canada needs to work at educating the Europeans on this issue.
Public procurement may be contentious, and we must be willing to have a full debate on the pros and cons of opening or keeping closed public procurement at different levels of government. There are legitimate concerns in this area.
As far as the arts and culture are concerned, there needs to be a focus on the debate pitting protectionism against expansionism. There will be a debate on the breadth and scope of future developments in this area.
We have to be careful.
Intellectual property protection—copyright, infringements and patents, specifically in relation to medicines and the life sciences—is already a focus of debate, and Canada is being told that its credentials are not sufficiently solid in this regard.
It is a rare occasion when different parties in this House agree on something. The pursuit of a CETA with the EU is one of those.
We Liberals will continue to be vigilant to ensure that the government does not bargain away too much and that we do not sacrifice some of the things that we Canadians hold dear. We will also hold the government to account in terms of ensuring that full advantage is taken of this deal. We offer to work together to see that the agricultural sectors, SMEs in all sectors, arts and cultural sectors and other Canadian enterprises get the help they need to take full advantage of what a CETA with the EU can offer.