The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU) is the result of years of hard work. Our previous Conservative government launched the negotiations in 2009 and reached an agreement in principle on CETA in 2013. We are proud that our free trade legacy will live on in this soon-to-be-ratified deal. Canada’s world class trade negotiators did a lot of heavy lifting to bring this deal across the finish line and our chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, deserves much of the credit for this huge accomplishment.
Conservatives believe that Canada should strive to maximize the benefits we have as a free-trading nation. We are an exporting economy which fills the needs of much of the world’s growing middle class; and CETA helps to fulfill our ambition to establish substantial trading relationships beyond North America.
With twenty-eight member states, the EU represents 500 million people and annual economic activity of almost $20 trillion. In fact, the EU is the world’s largest economy and the world’s largest importing market for goods. A joint Canada-EU study that supported the launch of the negotiations concluded that CETA could boost our bilateral trade by 20 percent and add $12 billion to Canada’s economy. This is the equivalent of adding $1,000 to the average Canadian family’s income or 80,000 new jobs to the Canadian economy. That will almost make up for the full-time jobs lost under the Liberal government since they came into power a year ago.
Beyond these broad gains for the Canadian economy, CETA represents some specific gains for Saskatchewan. The EU is our province’s fourth-largest export destination and similarly our fourth-largest trading partner. Eighty percent of our merchandise exports to Europe are agriculture and agri-food related. CETA will eliminate 94 percent of EU tariff lines on these exports. As a result. we expect huge gains for beef, bison and pork as they gain preferential access to the European market.
Further, fifteen percent of Saskatchewan’s exports to Europe are chemicals and plastics. On the day that CETA is ratified, 98 percent of the European duties on Canadian chemicals and plastics will be eliminated, with a further one percent being eliminated over seven years. As Canada’s second largest oil producer, one of the world's largest suppliers of uranium, and the world’s leading potash producer, CETA will prove beneficial for these sectors as well.
As CETA approaches its final implementation, our Party will continue to hold the Liberal government to account to ensure that Saskatchewanians and all Canadians reap the rewards of free trade, not only with the European Union, but also through other significant trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Liberal government’s refusal to make a decision on the TPP, and their offer to renegotiate NAFTA with President-elect Trump are decisions that are at odds with their position in favour of CETA.
We will also work to hold the NDP to account for their opportunistic positions on free trade. While in Opposition during the last government, the NDP supported Canada’s free trade agreement with South Korea, yet they have ideologically opposed other agreements that bring tremendous benefit to the Canadian economy.
As an exporting nation with one in five jobs dependent on international trade, Canadians deserve clarity on how each political party views Canada’s position in the global marketplace. Regrettably, it seems that the Conservative Party is the only one that consistently values and proclaims the benefits of free trade for our farmers, businesses, and our manufacturers.