Penashue plugs EU trade

Andrew Robinson
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Labrador MP joins N.L. business leaders to highlight need for deal with Europe

MP Peter Penashue speaks Friday at Rutter Technologies in St. John's on the benefits of a trade agreement with the European Union. The agreement is due to be finalized this year. - Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue joined a group of provincial business leaders to make one point clear - a free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union will benefit Newfoundland and Labrador.

"That's why we're pursuing the most ambitious trade plan in Canada's history - a plan that includes a trade agreement with the European Union," said the Labrador MP, who held a press conference inside the assembly plant of Rutter Technologies in St. John's Friday.

Negotiations continue between Canada and the European Union for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) covering not only goods, but also investment, services and provincial and municipal government procurement.

A Canadian Press story published earlier this week quoted the head of the EU council saying talks on an agreement are nearing the "end game."

Penashue cited a joint study with the EU that stated an agreement would boost Canada's total trade with the EU by as much as 20 per cent, growing the country's economy by $12 billion in the process.

"That translates to an increase of $1,000 to the average Canadian Family's average income, or 80,000 new jobs across the country," said Penashue.

Complaints have been made in the past about what the deal might mean for Canadian jobs.

At a meeting held in St. John's last summer by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Council of Canadians, concerns were raised about the potential for government liability on actions affecting the bottom line of foreign companies. It was also suggested that European companies could compete for the control of public services, leading to the privatization of such services.

The North American Free Trade Agreement did wonders for the continent, according to David Haire of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Newfoundland and Labrador. He said it allowed companies in Mexico, the United States and Canada to work as part of an integrated supply chain.

"CETA can help our members grow their business in Europe and attract global production of research mandates to Canada," he said, adding that any agreement must have a net economic benefit to Canadian manufacturers and exporters.

Rutter Technologies president and CEO Fraser Edison said his company does not do much business within the province, instead relying on global markets. It employs 110 people inside its plant and within the company's research and development department.

"International trade is a very important part of the economy and certainly a very important part for (our business)," he said.

Approximately 60 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product stems from international trade, accounting for one in five jobs across the country, according to International Trade Canada.

St. John's Board of Trade chair Steve Power said Canada must ensure the provinces and territories have a say in the formation of any trade agreement made with the EU.

"This country is too big for processes like this not to have representation from other levels of government," he said.

"While we have many commonalities, the reality is that the needs of British Columbia, for instance, are different from Newfoundland and Labrador."

He added this is especially pertinent to Newfoundland and Labrador, given it is the eastern gateway to Europe and its closest neighbour.

Power also made note of the skilled labour shortages existing in the province.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business spokesman Bradley George said overseas trade is important to small and medium-sized businesses, adding that he hopes the new agreement will harmonize regulations and reduce paperwork for those looking to conduct business overseas. Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: European Union, Labrador MP, Rutter Technologies Newfoundland and Lab Canadian Press EU council Canadian Union of Public Employees Canadian Manufacturers Federation of Independent Business

Geographic location: Canada, Europe, St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador Mexico United States British Columbia

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Recent comments

  • Casey
    April 29, 2012 - 19:54

    Posted:April 29, 2012 at 15:42:38 (if NL suffers and the rest of Canada benefits, then that is a good thing.) Your arrogance, selfishness and sense of entitlement is almost unbelievable. However, my experience tells me that people like you do exist. You are so caught up in your own little world that you can't see beyond it, and don't want to. You can only push people so far and they will push back, count on it!. In fact there is a grass roots movement starting right across Canada that will put you and your kind in your place. Keep your eyes and ears open, because that is about all you got!

  • Your attitude "If NL Suffers and the Rest of Canada Benefits" is EVIL
    April 29, 2012 - 17:39

    Your attitude "If NL Suffers and the Rest of Canada Benefits" is the prevailing attitude in Canada. You and the rest of Canada who have benefited greatly over the past 63 years from Newfoundland and Labrador's natural resource base are the most covetous group of citizens in the World, you are a very sickening group. I read so much over the past few months of your sickening commentary to this electronic site's articles that I feel helpless in this country that has treated us so badly. Actually your mentality is frightening. Newfoundland and Labrador could have had the top economy in the whole of the 21 Great Economies that were created over the past 63 years in the Western Hemisphere had Ottawa not taken our country out by hook or by crook. We not only had the natural resource base to support such an economy, but we also had the greatest strategic geographic location in Canada with all areas situated on the North Atlantic Trade routes, just 3500 kilometers from the centre of North America and 3500 kilometers from Europe. Unfortunately Canada got to grow that vibrant economy from Newfoundland and Labrador's natural resources. Your attitude has to be contradicted by every Newfoundlander and Labrador, because you are NOT the only one who holds this dangerous philosophy on how Newfoundland and Labrador should be treated. Where are our politicians when such tripe is being voiced by people like you and not only being voice but is being acted upon?

  • walter hanisch
    April 28, 2012 - 13:27

    CETA is going to place alot of Canadian companies, public serices and peolpe at risk. As yourselves why our government has kept this a secret. If you read the agreement it is bad for our economy and taxpayers. It will get the government off the hook by allowing for the privitizing of our resources, namely water. Be afraid of this agreement. See

  • I am scared of hearing the details of the newly touted CETA Agreement for the sake of my fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and our province.
    April 28, 2012 - 10:06

    I am cowering in my corner afraid of hearing the details of the further damage the Federal Government has inflicted upon the ``fish resource`` that once was under Newfoundland and Labrador's jurisdiction, but for the past 63 years have been under Ottawa's control, in the highly touted CETA Agreement. I bet it is a good agreement for the rest of Canada, but a train wreck for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We will get what we always have gotten from Ottawa, "Zilch`, with more of our resources exploited and nothing in return for our people and our province.

    • if NL suffers and the rest of Canada benefits, then that is a good thing
      April 29, 2012 - 12:49

      You cover your head while the rest of us rejoice. Democracy is about the greatest good, about serving the majority. The CETA will make Canada's economy stronger as a whole, and that might even entail making NL weaker. I am okay with that, I am willing to pay that price. Sure, you may not, so use your vote and your voice to strive for what is in your interests. I will do the same, as will MILLIONS of other CANADIANS. IN the end, the government will pander to the majority simply becuase they need to be re-elected to keep their jobs. There are millions and millions of CANADIANS who support the CETA, so honestly, who really care what NL wants, or what is good for NL. I surely don't (will all due respect of course).

  • mare fulber
    April 28, 2012 - 10:06

    Its also a cheaper way to get immigrants flowing into the borders....takes the feds off the hook through the agreements.....typical of and economic rather than a social focus for government programming.....this should transform the social fabric of canada even more quickly than the free trade agreement with the US