OTTAWA, Nov. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Speaking to the federal Standing Committee
on International Trade this morning, Unifor National President Jerry
Dias expressed concerns about what has been released so far about the
proposed free trade deal with Europe, urging that the full text of the
deal be made public.
"In free trade deals, like this, there will be positive outcomes for
some industries and there will be cause for concern in others," Dias
told the CIIT hearings into the Comprehensive Economic and Trade
"The key issue in our view is to figure out how the CETA balances the
two. And then determine if that balance is in the best interests of
Dias drew on a number of industries, all represented by Unifor, to
outline why the details released so far about the deal are cause for
In the auto industry, for example, there is already a large trade
deficit, with Europe selling $5.6 billion worth of cars into Canada,
while Canada exports only $269 million. This amounts to a trade deficit
of more than $5.3 billion. The situation continues to worsen, with
imports from Europe more than doubling since 1999.
"CETA will make this bad trade situation with Europe even worse," Dias
said, in his presentation.
"No-one I speak with in the industry thinks Canada's auto industry will
be a net winner from this deal," Dias said.
"Much the same is true in forestry. Canada already has tariff-free
status for our main exports of cut lumber and newsprint, and there are
limited markets for the plywood and oriented strand board where tariffs
will be cut. We import, however, 10 times the amount of furniture from
Europe as we sell them."
"We mostly sell Europe raw materials. And they mostly sell us
high-value, manufactured goods. We have a nearly 30 billion dollar
manufacturing trade deficit with Europe. And that deficit will likely
expand, not shrink, under a free trade pact," Dias told the committee.
He also warned of higher drug prices, which will put a strain on
Canada's already struggling public health services, and that rules
against buy-local purchasing policies will limit growth and job
creation in our important mass transit sector.
Dias said Canadian governments need to have the ability to balance
industrial development policies to enhance Canada's ability to
manufacture value added goods and create good jobs for our young
CETA, however, would grant companies the right to challenge such
democratic decisions if they infringe on a corporation's right to earn
"What about the rights of workers to decent jobs? What about the rights
of citizens to democratic decision-making?"
Dias made three recommendations to the committee:
That the federal government release the full text of the deal as soon as
That CETA can only be ratified once the House of Commons and each
provincial and territorial parliament vote in favour of it.
That any provisions for investor-state dispute settlement courts, and
strengthening drug patent laws be removed.
Founded on Labour Day weekend with the merging of the Canadian Auto
Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union,
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector with more than
300,000 members in every sector of the Canadian economy.
For further information:
Angelo DiCaro, Unifor Research Department 416-606-6311 or Shannon Devine, Unifor Communications Director 416-302-1699
To read the full text of the presentation, please visit: http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/unifor_submission_to_ciit_hearings_on_the_canada_nov19.pdf