Protection for Canadian Jobs

Last fall, Prime Minister Harper gave me additional responsibilities for International Trade as the Parliamentary Secretary. While my focus remains centered upon being an effective and strong voice for Durham as the Member of Parliament, I am also directly involved in growing new markets for Canadian goods and services. It is an exciting mandate to be given because Canada is rapidly growing new trade relationships around the world given the strength of our economy and great reputation our country has around the world. In fact, when I meet with foreign political leaders or their diplomats, they state they are envious of Canada’s strong economy and our place in the world.

Trade is also more important than people think. One in every five jobs in the Canadian economy is directly attributable to international trade. The United States remains our most important trade relationship by a wide margin, but in the years since the global recession, the US economy has been sluggish and exports to the US have not been as strong. To counter slow exports to the US, the Prime Minister embarked on a very ambitious set of negotiations around the world to ensure we had new markets to help make up for the slowdown in the US. This has led to the most ambitious trade agreement Canada has ever negotiated with the European Union and a deal with South Korea, which represents our first free trade agreement in fast-growing Asia.

Agriculture is one of the sectors that will benefit most from our trade agenda. Beef, pork, grain, fruit and oil seeds will all have large new markets in Europe and Asia to sell to. This not only gives them some security against protectionism in the US as we have seen lately with beef, but it will give farmers and processors more choice in markets to sell thereby securing higher prices and less risk.

We also see the one in five jobs attributable to trade right in our own community. Adamson Systems Engineering manufactures some of the best and most sought after loudspeaker systems in the world. Concert goers from Germany to Japan might not know that the amazing sound from their favourite band comes out of a speaker manufactured in Port Perry. Similarly, many car seats assembled in other parts of North America have tooling and molds assembled using some of the most cutting edge manufacturing in the world based out of the AWC Company plant in Courtice. If Adamson and AWC were limited to selling their goods and services only in Canada they would be limited to a market of 33 million people. With trade agreements, our government has negotiated with the European Union and South Korea and our exporters will now have access to an additional 550 million consumers.

Canada has free trade agreements with countries that we have strong relationships with, but we are also signing trade protection agreements with developing countries or some nations that pose unique risks for our exporters. Our government recently moved forward with such an agreement – known as a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements or FIPA for short – with China. We have almost 30 FIPAs in place with countries around the world. These were negotiated over the last two decades and most came into force with no coverage at all, but a lot of misinformation is circulating about the FIPA with China, based on fears or uncertainty related to China. China is now the world’s second largest economy and our exporters are trading with China and they want more protection in that market. China’s legal system is not as fair and developed as Canada’s so the FIPA allows for a fair and impartial way to deal with disputes that Canadian companies might have in that country. In many ways it simply levels the playing field because Chinese companies operating or trading in Canada already have access to our courts, which are some of the most fair and sophisticated in the world. Canadian exporters – like those here in Durham – need the certainty and protection in China that the FIPA provides, so that they can continue to grow the jobs that rely on trade.

For more information on FIPA’s, read:

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada – Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection (FIPAs)

Maclean’s: “Don’t Fear the FIPA”

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