CETA will be great benefit to P.E.I.

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Editor,
Trade has long been a powerful engine for Canada’s economy. It is even more so in these globally challenging economic times. Indeed, trade today is equivalent in size to some 60 per cent of Canada’s annual Gross Domestic Product and one out of every five Canadian jobs is dependent on exports. 

When we trade, we become more competitive. Prices for goods and services go down.  Wages, salaries and our standard of living go up, and businesses are able to hire more workers. All this is why our government has put so much effort into expanding market access for business people and investors here in Prince Edward Island as well as right across Canada.

Our government’s pro-trade plan is about creating economic growth and jobs in every region, rather than “advancing the rights of businesses” as a recent letter to the Charlottetown Guardian inaccurately suggested.

Since trade today can extend beyond the import and export of goods to encompass a vast number of business connections, Canada’s free trade agreements include provisions concerning foreign direct investments – an important input into the creation of new jobs and business innovation.    

The Canada-European Union Trade Agreement (CETA) is no exception. CETA’s investment rules provide greater certainty, transparency and protection to Canadians who want to invest in the EU and will ensure that EU-member governments treat Canadian businesses no less favourably than they do EU businesses.

These new investment rules will ensure that markets remain open while protecting Canadian businesses against arbitrary government measures that discriminate in favour of domestic companies.

Let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing in CETA or any other Canadian trade agreement that restricts the ability of a national, provincial or local government to regulate and legislate in areas designed to protect the environment, public health and safety, our water supply, our health-care system, culture and a myriad of other such fields. Under CETA, foreign investors, like domestic companies, are subject to and must abide by the laws and regulations of Canada and PEI.

Despite the fear-mongering of CETA’s anti-trade critics, the reality is that this agreement will be of great benefit to P.E.I. across all sectors of our economy.

For example, tariffs on Canadian exports in the EU currently range from nearly 18 per cent for frozen French fries, to an incredible 25 per cent for seafood. When this agreement comes into force, 96 per cent of tariffs for fish and seafood products will be lifted. In the first year alone, the lobster industry stands to save $6.7 million. Seven years into the agreement, the last of the tariffs will disappear, and our lobster products can be sold completely duty-free. The long-term benefits of increased exports to Europe mean more jobs, higher wages, and greater prosperity.

 

Gail Shea

Egmont MP

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Organizations: European Union, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Canada, Europe

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