BC Shipyard Workers Federation says federal Conservative government betraying shipbuilding industry - free trade deal between Canada and European Free Trade Association expected today could throw away thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in investment in BC and Canada



    VANCOUVER, June 7 /CNW/ - A free trade agreement between Canada and the
European Free Trade Association expected to be announced today represents a
federal Conservative government betrayal of BC and Canada's multi-billion
dollar shipbuilding and repair industry, says the BC Shipyard General Workers'
Federation.
    The deal with the EFTA - which includes Norway, a major shipbuilding
country - could cost BC and Canada thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions
in investment, says Shipyard Workers Federation president George MacPherson.
    And MacPherson says a federal announcement today to add $50 million over
three years to a Canadian shipbuilding financing program is money previously
removed from the same program and won't do much to protect the industry.
    "The federal government is betraying Canadian shipyard workers and the
shipbuilding industry with a free trade deal with Norway that could see more
ships built and repaired in a foreign country instead of here at home,"
MacPherson said. "Norway has a significant shipbuilding industry that was
heavily subsidized for decades and now needs free trade deals to sell its
products to Canada."
    MacPherson said British Columbia has already lost nearly $1 billion worth
of shipbuilding work because BC Ferries is constructing several new ferries in
Germany and the new free trade deal - expected to be announced today by
federal International Trade Minister David Emerson - could accelerate export
of more jobs.
    MacPherson is also worried that the next federal action will be to
eliminate a 25% tariff charged for importing any foreign-built ship, which
encourages shipbuilding in Canada.
    "How do we as a country support our own shipbuilding industry when Canada
undermines its workers and companies by giving foreign countries free access
to our market?" MacPherson asked. "Why do we export jobs and investment to
other countries, where neither their companies nor workers pay Canadian
taxes?"
    The European Free Trade Association want to eliminate Canadian tariffs of
25% that are charged on any ship built in a foreign country imported for use
in Canada. The members of the European Free Trade Association do $11-billion
of annual business with Canada.
    MacPherson said Norway was one of the countries BC Ferries approached to
build the three new Super C Class ferries worth $542 million that are now
being constructed in Germany. That cost includes a 25% duty of about $82
million.





For further information:

For further information: Call George MacPherson at (604) 254-8204 or
cell (604) 220-3291 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, at (604)
844-7827 or cell (778) 896-0964

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BC SHIPYARD GENERAL WORKERS' FEDERATION

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