Canada has one of the most successful and prosperous economies in the world. Our country’s growth is strong and is spread across the country. Our dollar, employment, corporate profits, as well as trade and investment levels are all at record highs. Our Government intends to build on this success by implementing a free trade agreement with the states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) that include: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
On May 05, 2008, the Honourable David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade tabled the implementing legislation (Bill C-55) in Parliament of the Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement. This is the first free trade agreement that Canada has signed in six years and the first such agreement with European countries. Canada and the European Free Trade Association signed a free trade agreement on January 26, 2008. Our Government held extensive consultations with stakeholders throughout the negotiation of the agreement, to ensure that their interests were considered. The Bill had second reading on May 28, 2008, and is currently at the International Trade Committee.
The Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement demonstrates our country’s commitment towards an aggressive bilateral trade agenda, as outlined in Advantage Canada, the Global Commerce Strategy, and the Speech from the Throne. It will provide Canada with a strategic platform for building and expanding commercial ties with the EFTA countries, as well as countries within the European Union, which include some of the wealthiest and most sophisticated markets in the world. There are many benefits for Canadian business, the agricultural sector, and shipbuilding.
Canadian business can benefit from the state-of-art technology offered by the EFTA countries, as well as significant potential markets for Canadian exporters. A Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement will also help provide a platform for expanding commercial ties not just with the EFTA countries, but with the European Union more broadly. In addition, the Free Trade Agreement will completely eliminate all non-agricultural tariffs upon implementation of the agreement.
Canada’s agricultural producers and exporters will also benefit from the Agreement, as the FTA will eliminate or reduce tariffs on certain agricultural exports from Canada including: Durum wheat, frozen French fries, crude canola oil, pet food, beer, and frozen blueberries, while Canadian Supply Management programs are maintained.
When developing the Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement, our Government consulted marine industry stakeholders throughout the negotiations and has taken their interests and input into consideration. For the most sensitive vessels, our Government has negotiated the longest tariff phase-out period on industrial products in Canada’s FTA history. Other measures include: product-specific rules of origin that were re-negotiated in Canada’s favour, special provisions for repaired or altered ships, and no changes to the rules on government procurement.
The Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement demonstrates our Government’s commitment to broadening Canada’s economy by tapping into some of the world’s most sophisticated markets. It’s a deal that benefits manufacturers and producers alike. The Canada EFTA Free Trade Agreement will bring Canada closer to the EFTA countries and the European Union. We are delivering results to our country’s leading industries while giving our economy a competitive edge.