Com­plaints about trade deal ‘ridicu­lous’

The Compass - - OPINION - BILL BARRY

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.

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.

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.

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

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