My Speech on Bill C-30 – Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

February 16, 2017

Mr. Robert Kitchen (Souris-Moose Mountain, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise today in the House to discuss the importance of the comprehensive economic trade agreement, also known as CETA, between Canada and the European Union. I am glad to speak to it as aspects of it will have major effects on my riding of Souris-Moose Mountain, located in southeast Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan has the potential to benefit greatly under CETA. The EU is Saskatchewan’s fourth largest export destination and the fourth largest trading partner. With 28 member states, the EU represents 500 million people and an annual economic activity of almost $18 trillion. It is the world’s largest economy and is also the world’s largest importing market for goods.

This party strongly supports international trade initiatives that will generate increased economic activity, drive prosperity and job creation, as well as foster greater co-operation between our democratic allies.

The Canada-EU trade agreement will emphasize the importance of secure access to international markets through a rules-based trading system. Canada should strive to maximize the benefits we have as a free trading nation, and the need to establish trading relationships beyond North America is exactly what CETA would accomplish.

In short, the EU represents a huge market. Having access to that market would significantly and positively impact producers in Saskatchewan, especially within the agriculture industry.

Right now times are tough in my riding. The downturn in the oil and gas industry has hit my constituency hard. Thousands of men and women are out of work, and part of the issue is the jobs simply are not there. This has a trickle-down effect as well. Without the oil and gas workers, small businesses, such as restaurants and retail stores, are having to close their doors for good, as their customer base is disappearing. Parents are wondering how they are going to feed their families once their employment insurance runs out. It affects all levels of the population and the economy.

The announcement of a Liberal carbon tax, as well as the planned phase-out of the coal-fired electricity, has also devastated my constituents at a time when jobs are already scarce. At this point in time, my constituents are looking for their government to create jobs and get them back to work.

Despite the Liberals’ lack of action on that front, I am pleased that CETA will provide an opportunity for employment through the opening of markets for several industries, namely agriculture.

Once CETA comes into force, 98% of all tariffs between Canada and the EU will immediately be eliminated. The tariff exemption on goods will result in over $1.4 billion being added to Canada’s merchandise exports to the EU by 2022. It is hoped that the removal of tariffs and barriers to trade will create the jobs my constituents so badly need and that it would improve productivity and promote growth.

My riding contains hundreds of farms. The agricultural industry is the backbone of my constituency. I am greatly supportive of any trade deal that would bolster that industry. Farmers feed Canada and the world and so anything that can be done to increase the access of these farmers to international markets should be done. Through CETA, these producers will have an additional 500 million consumers to which they can market their agricultural and agrifood products.

For agricultural and agrifood products, specifically, almost 94% of the EU tariff lines on Canadians goods will be duty-free once CETA enters into force. As the tariff phase-outs are completed, this will rise to 95% of products, approximately seven years after the agreement comes into force.

This is great news for Saskatchewan producers. From 2013 to 2015, 80% of principal merchandise exports from Saskatchewan to the EU were from the agriculture and agrifood industry, amounting to $935.4 million. With the current EU tariff, tariffs on products such as durum wheat are as high as 148 euros per tonne. Once CETA comes into force, tariffs such as this would be eliminated completely.

Again, this will create a trickle-down effect, but a positive one. Agricultural producers will not only have access to a large and mature market, but they will also save money when it comes to the elimination of tariffs on their exports. This will mean they will be able to hire more employees, creating jobs, while also gaining access to the world’s largest market. This is exactly what Saskatchewan and, in particular, my constituents need at this time.

I am also pleased that CETAwill provide Canadian producers with preferential access to markets. As this is the first comprehensive trade deal between the EU and any other country, Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers will be in a position to market their products to the largest economy in the world, products such as beef, pork, and bison. I know my constituents are supportive of any initiative that opens up markets for trade. I hope the government can recognize just how important it is to have this happen as soon as possible.

A joint Canada-EU study that supported the launch of negotiations concluded that a trade agreement with the EU could bring a 20% boost in bilateral trade, and a $12 billion annual increase to Canada’s economy. This is the economic equivalent of adding $1,000 to the income of the average Canadian family, or almost 80,000 new jobs to the Canadian economy. At a time when jobs are scarce in my constituency, this added revenue will make a huge difference in the lives of those who are struggling to find work. By opening new markets, jobs are both directly and indirectly created, something that is badly needed in my riding.

The implementation of CETA will also affect a number of other industries, though more indirectly. For example, when a farmer needs to get his grain to market, he has to hire someone to transport that product. This is a job that might otherwise not exist, and so it is essentially job creation. Farmers also need to utilize services of maintenance workers for their heavy machinery and equipment.

Again, this is job creation. At a time when my riding is in dire need of jobs, CETA allows easier market access to producers, which allows producers to hire more people, especially in the services industry, and benefits the economy of Saskatchewan overall.

While the focus of my speech has so far been mainly on agriculture, the services industry I just mentioned will also benefit from CETA coming into force. The services sector is a key contributor to Saskatchewan’s economy, accounting for 57% of the province’s total GDP, and employing more than 394,000 Saskatchewan residents in 2015. With preferential access and greater transparency in the EU services market, there will be more secure and predictable market access in the areas of interest to Saskatchewan, such as construction services, as well as research and development services.

Currently, Saskatchewan is recognized as a world leader in agricultural biotechnology and life sciences, with cutting edge research centres spawning high-tech industries. An example of this is the Canadian Light Source synchrotron and Innovation Place research parks.

Through CETA, Saskatchewan and Canada will have preferential access, as well as greater transparency, in the EU services market, something that can only stand to benefit our research and development sector.

Saskatchewan is a vast province. In addition to agricultural exports of $15.1 billion in 2015, the province is gaining worldwide attention for its wealth of mineral and energy resources. Saskatchewan is Canada’s second largest oil producing province, and the third largest natural gas producing province, making the oil and gas industry one of the largest contributors to the provincial economy, with sales of $15.9 billion in 2014. Despite the downturn in oil and gas prices, the industry remains integral to the economic well-being of the province.

For those who may not be aware, Saskatchewan is also a world leader in carbon capture and storage, with expertise in enhanced oil recovery. SaskPower, the province’s power utility, has undertaken one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage projects at the Boundary Dam power station, located in my hometown of Estevan. This project is one of the first to develop and demonstrate carbon dioxide capture at a coal-fired power generation plant on a commercial scale, in part, because of the previous Conservative government’s funding of $250 million toward the project. I have toured the facility and have seen first hand just how much work has gone into developing this initiative. Governments worldwide are sending their representatives to Boundary Dam in order to learn about this technology.

The comprehensive economic trade agreement between Canada and Europe is good news. It is good news for our farmers, our manufacturers, our service suppliers, and many other industries. It is pertinent that this deal comes into force as soon as possible. My riding is struggling right now, and many of the provisions contained in CETA could help to alleviate that. We need job creation, and this trade deal has the potential to meet that need.

I am proud to support this agreement that would not only help Saskatchewan’s varied economy, but also strengthen the relationship between Canada and Europe.