MONTREAL, Oct. 18, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Premier of Québec, Pauline Marois, and the Minister of Finance and the Economy, Nicolas Marceau, have announced that the Québec government has indicated that it supports the agreement in principle on the major issues of the negotiation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA). This draft agreement in principle comes after several months of intense negotiations.
"We are proud that we have taken this crucial step in the negotiations leading to the most far-reaching free trade agreement since NAFTA in 1994. Because of its limited domestic market, Québec must be more open to the world. With its 500 million consumers, the European Union is the planet's leading economic power," the Premier said.
"The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union will diversify and consolidate access to a market that is essential for Québec companies. Under CETA, all customs tariffs of the European Union and Canada on industrial products will be eliminated, including 98% of tariff lines as soon as CETA comes into force," Minister Marceau added.
Accordingly, Québec will be able to reap significant gains, especially in the aluminum, recreational vehicles, petrochemical and chemical products, sawn timber, mobile homes, auto parts, telecommunications equipment, and advanced optics equipment sectors as well as for many processed food products.
CETA will also include a framework for the recognition of product certification organizations for sectors in which "CE" marking is necessary. For Québec, this certification will mean shorter delays and lower costs for our industries.
In the field of public procurement, it is important to mention that no other country in the G20 will enjoy access comparable to that obtained by Canada to public contracts of the European Union, the biggest public procurement market in the world, estimated at nearly $3 000 billion annually.
In agriculture, CETA will provide increased access to the European market for beef and pork and will eliminate tariffs on many fresh and processed products.
However, the federal government agreed to an increase in the cheese import quota, which may have an impact on the income of Québec's dairy farmers and cheese-makers.
"The Québec government had expressed to the federal government that it opposed such a compromise in response to the European Union's demands. Moreover, I can confirm that we obtained a firm commitment from the federal government that compensation measures will be put in place for the dairy producers affected by this increase in imports. These measures will specifically aim to compensate for any loss of income attributable to the increase in the import quota, tighten the entry of non-quota cheese, implement stricter border control in the near future and, lastly, better take into account Québec's share of the sector in the allocation of import licences," Nicolas Marceau explained.
It was agreed that these compensation mechanisms must be known and set out in detail before final ratification of CETA.
Lastly, Québec obtained assurance that services related to education, health and social services, services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority and supply management, in particular, would be excluded from the scope of CETA. With respect to cultural industries, negotiations were able to put forward an approach based on exceptions by chapter, with a reference, in the CETA preamble, to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
"As soon as we took office, our government indicated its support of a future free trade agreement to diversify access to markets for Québec's industries. Until a final agreement is ratified, we will continue to work tirelessly so that Québec benefits as much as possible from this agreement," the Premier added.
"Québec has been involved throughout the negotiations, and we have achieved significant gains for our economy. We made ambitious offers to obtain easier access to European markets for Québec businesses. It is therefore crucial to finish the job so that Québec can benefit as quickly as possible from major spinoffs by diversifying our exports to the European Union," Québec's chief negotiator, Pierre Marc Johnson, concluded.
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SOURCE: Cabinet du ministre des Finances et de l'Économie
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