Complaints about trade deal ‘ridiculous’

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I am motivated to write you in support of the Canadian European Trade Agreement (CETA) after hearing the most ridiculous arguments as to why this is not a good deal for Newfoundland and Labrador.

I will keep my comments to the future effect of CETA upon the fishing industry, and leave others to comment on their particular areas of expertise.

High price

The Barry Group sells various fishery products into the European Union, most notably cold water shrimp, lobster, mackerel and herring, but also groundfish species such as skate and monkfish.

Current duties amount to 20 per cent on shrimp, six per cent to 16 per cent on lobster, 15 per cent on herring, 20 per cent on mackerel, and eight per cent on snow crab.

In addition, there are end user requirements which prevent us from selling small packages of product into the EU market, the world’s premier market for seafood.

While it is common in trade agreements for tariffs to be reduced over several years, it is rather quite remarkable that virtually 100 per cent of all tariffs on fishing products will go to zero when CETA comes into force.

Our industry will also have the opportunity to sell consumer packs, which generally command somewhat better prices.

This is good for everyone in our industry; fishermen as well as processors.

The provincial government is to be commended for hard bargaining and the federal government for completing such a complex trade agreement, which required the concurrence of 25 countries and their various interests, and 10 provinces.

The $400 million adjustment fund, supported by a 70 per cent contribution from the federal government, provides the opportunity to improve the competitiveness of our fishing industry through improved productivity and new technological innovation.

Non-tariff barriers fall

There are also various measures agreed to which will facilitate the flow of seafood into the marketplace.

For example, national treatment obligations will ensure goods are not subject to discriminatory treatment, fees charged must be commensurate with costs and there will be automated border procedures. International trade is as much about non-tariff barriers as it is about tariffs, so these and many others provisions will certainly facilitate the flow of goods to the EU countries.

Many of the complaints centre around the provision that minimum processing requirements on the export of fish products will only be protected for three years after the agreement comes into effect.

I certainly respect contrarian opinion.

However, I have heard no concrete examples, just hysteria, while the same individuals ignore the fact that no tariffs will allow Canadian companies to sell products that we cannot today because of prohibitive tariffs and end user restrictions.

I have also heard it said that CETA would discriminate against small companies, while the opposite is more likely, due to less bureaucracy and clearer rules to facilitate trade.

A trading nation

For those who oppose free and open trade arrangements with other countries, I have to ask the question, don’t you know that Canada lives by its trade?

Imagine if our fishery, forestry, mining, energy, potash, chemical, agriculture and technology industries could only market their products in Canada.

We would quickly become a Third World/very poor country.

What we need as a province is more customers and, I might add, less stupidity around this historic event.

In closing, I am absolutely convinced that this is a historic achievement for our fishing industry.

Kudos to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

I look forward to continued federal and provincial co-operation, which is essential for the future prosperity of our great province.

Bill Barry runs the Barry Group of companies.

Organizations: European Union, Barry Group, Third World

Geographic location: Canada

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Recent comments

  • Pierre Neary
    November 08, 2013 - 15:59

    Smells fishy alright. The rich get richer.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    November 08, 2013 - 09:10

    "The provincial government is to be commended for hard bargaining"... So what did the EU bargain for -- AND GET? Why didn't you tell us that Mr. Barry? And should government be commended because the agreement is "complex"? Of course not, any commendation should be based on the merits of the final agreement. A "$400 million adjustment fund"?. If this agreement means improved job opportunities, why the need for an "adjustment" fund? Or is it a sell out of the inshore fishing and ONSHORE processing sector for 20 pieces of silver? ---- No "discriminatory treatment"? --- a code word for no government assistance (like is being provided to the paper industry). Needed assistance is good for Kruger, but not for inshore fishers/processors? How can you say you respect contrarian opinion and in the same breath refer to it as mere "hysteria", and then later on --- "stupid"? How can concrete contrarian examples be provided when the whole thing has been done in secret? --- Opposed to a deal done in secret does not mean that one is opposed to free trade, and you know that Mr. Barry. But you choose to mislead. And image if we were not allowed to sell our products in Canada? --- do you mean for example how we are not allowed to sell our refined oil products coming from Come by Chance in the rest of Canada? There is nothing historic (in a positive way) of an agreement that locks the sale of our unprocessed fish resources to the EU and shifts processing to offshore floating fish plants --- for the purpose of cementing the industrial 'cash crop' model. Quick cash for little creativity, little investment, and little economic growth for rural communities --- all driven by greed.

  • Politically Incorrect
    November 08, 2013 - 07:44

    Perhaps the most objectionable aspect of this and other trade deals is that they permit corporations to sue governments whose policies are seen to interfere with profits. This means that, for instance In Canada, the courts revoked two patents owned by the American drugs firm Eli Lilly, on the grounds that the company had not produced enough evidence that they had the beneficial effects it claimed. Eli Lilly is now suing the Canadian government for $500m, and demanding that Canada's patent laws are changed. There is a similar suit against the Government of Australia from Philip Morris for health warnings on cigarette packages. The Canadian mining firm Pacific Rim is suing the government of El Salvador $315m – for the loss of its anticipated future profits. All of these tribunals are held in camera and cannot be appealed. In essence, then, these investor-state regulations embedded in these trade deals, which were never presented to the public to debate, put the profits of corporations above the decisions of elected governments. Of course the obvious questions are: 1. if these were such great deals for the public, why were they done behind closed doors? And 2. Why would a government that supposedly is responsible to its citizens actively pursue these deals?