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 Agreement (CETA).
"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 Canadians."
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 concern.
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 people.
CETA, however, would grant companies the right to challenge such democratic decisions if they infringe on a corporation's right to earn a profit.
"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 possible.
- 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