Chang­ing tides of trade

One year into CETA, what does it mean for New­foun­land?

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY KYLE GREENHAM

As trade grows be­tween Canada and the Euro­pean Union (EU), the re­sults of this in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ship are wash­ing ashore in fish­ing out­ports across the prov­ince.

The fish­ery, which was his­tor­i­cally the eco­nomic foun­da­tion of New­found­land and Labrador, is to­day an in­dus­try con­tin­u­ously be­set by cuts, de­clines and un­cer­tain­ties. But in re­cent years, words of hope and re­bound are grow­ing in the pub­lic dis­course.

With tar­iffs de­clin­ing and op­por­tu­ni­ties aris­ing, the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment (CETA) be­tween Canada and the EU has the po­ten­tial to play a key role in the liveli­hoods of har­vesters and pro­ces­sors.

Now pass­ing one year since this in­ter­na­tional trade agree­ment took ef­fect, the fish­ing in­dus­try is see­ing changes.

Shrimp: Re­newed work

The out­port of Port au Choix is one com­mu­nity al­ready reap­ing the ben­e­fits of CETA. After se­vere cuts in the north­ern shrimp quota, the Ocean Choice In­ter­na­tional shrimp plant in the North­ern Penin­sula town had strug­gled in re­cent sum­mers.

How­ever, since CETA has ended the 12 per cent tar­iff on cooked shell-on shrimp go­ing into the Euro­pean mar­ket, pro­cessed shrimp pro­duc­tion has in­creased for the Port au Choix plant.

“In­stead of ship­ping the shrimp un­pro­cessed, the Port au Choix fa­cil­ity has now taken in­dus­trial pro­cess­ing on­shore,” said Fish­eries and Land Re­sources Min­is­ter Gerry Byrne in an in­ter­view with The Cen­tral Voice. “It’s cre­ated jobs and im­proved pro­cess­ing for that area. That would have never been pos­si­ble with­out CETA.”

As­sis­tant trade pol­icy of­fi­cer with the EU Clare Mur­phy was di­rectly in­volved with CETA ne­go­ti­a­tions in its be­gin­ning years, re­search­ing the tar­iffs and trade flow of Canada’s fish­ery prod­ucts into their mar­ket.

South­east Asia is a ma­jor im­porter of shrimp into the Euro­pean mar­ket, but with more pro­cessed Cana­dian shrimp en­ter­ing the con­ti­nent, Mur­phy says the qual­ity of cold-wa­ter north­ern shrimp can make it stand out on the mar­ket.

“We im­port a lot of shrimp, and this was im­por­tant to Canada dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions,” she said. “Sus­tain­abil­ity, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns, or­ganic prod­ucts, etc. – this has be­come a more wide­spread is­sue to con­sumers in Europe.

“That is a po­ten­tial mar­ket be­cause south­east Asian shrimp is gen­er­ally farmed and not al­ways in those cat­e­gories.”

Cod: Mar­ket­ing of a premium prod­uct

Twill­ingate fish­er­man John Gil­lett has made his liv­ing on the At­lantic waters for over 50 years, in­clud­ing through the tu­mul­tuous col­lapse of the cod fish­ery in the 1990s. At that time, the plant in Twill­ingate was re­struc­tured as a shrimp plant be­cause of the cod mora­to­rium. But in 2017, Twill­ingate was hit again with a ma­jor eco­nomic loss after the clo­sure of the Notre Dame Seafoods shrimp plant.

With the talk of a re­bound­ing cod fish­ery, in­cen­tives cre­ated through CETA and new in­vest­ments through the At­lantic Fish­eries Fund, Gil­lett hopes there is still a fu­ture for the area’s fish­ery and its plant.

“Dur­ing the mora­to­rium it was dev­as­tat­ing, and back then there was a lot of money in­vested that was wasted away,” Gil­lett said. “I’ve never seen the cod­fish as plen­ti­ful as it is now, and with all that’s com­ing through CETA–I hope things are done right and there’s a fu­ture for that plant.”

In the EU, cod is im­ported largely from Ice­land and Nor­way, and is also a fish­ery for some EU coun­tries like Spain.

Mur­phy says cod is a prod­uct highly sought after in the Euro­pean mar­ket, and if the qual­ity is high enough, Cana­dian cod can com­pete.

Now that the agree­ment is in ef­fect, she says it is re­ally up to the com­pa­nies and har­vesters of the prov­ince to find the ad­van­tages and make the most of this new trade re­la­tion­ship.

“It’s in their in­ter­est to ex­plore pos­si­bil­i­ties,” Mur­phy said. “We’re one of the big­gest mar­kets for fish­ery prod­ucts, so the po­ten­tial is there. A good qual­ity prod­uct from a sus­tain­able fish­ery is cer­tainly im­por­tant now.”

Just this past year cod har­vesters across New­found­land and Labrador were awarded fund­ing for au­to­matic line jig­gers for their ves­sels. This tech­nol­ogy, promi­nently used in the fish­eries of Ice­land and Nor­way, is known for its abil­ity to catch cod ef­fi­ciently and en­sure high qual­ity.

“Hope­fully it’s go­ing to make a big dif­fer­ence in the fish­ery; we have to be able to get into this new way of fish­ing,” said Mary’s Har­bour fish­er­man Al­ton Rum­bolt, who re­ceived fund­ing for this new tech­nol­ogy in Jan­uary. “We’re aim­ing for top qual­ity prod­uct and a bet­ter price.”

While Ice­wa­ter Seafoods in Arnold’s Cove al­ready sends cod to the EU and United King­dom, Byrne agrees it is with a qual­ity prod­uct that New­found­land and Labrador’s cod fish­ery will grow its place in the EU.

“We’re in the Euro­pean mar­ket for premium cod – the mar­ket­place re­ally picks up on that dis­tinc­tion,” Rum­bolt said. “We have to make sure we have the best prac­tices.”

Lob­ster and red­fish: Grow­ing ex­ports

One year on, both Canada and the EU made over­all in­creases in ex­ports and im­ports. But thus far, the Euro­pean Union has taken greater ad­van­tage of CETA. Since the trade agree­ment went into ef­fect, im­ports into Canada from the EU have risen by 12 per cent (ac­cord­ing to data from Statis­tics Canada). Be­tween Oc­to­ber 2017 and July 2018, Euro­pean im­ports of ve­hi­cles and ve­hi­cle parts in­creased by 15.5 per cent, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal im­ports in­creased by 6.2 per cent, and fuel and oil im­ports went up by 21.9 per cent.

How­ever, in the first 10 months of CETA, Canada’s ex­ports into Europe have only gone up by less than one per cent.

Paul Bran­nen, Euro­pean Par­lia­ment MEP and vice-chair of the Del­e­ga­tion for Re­la­tions with Canada, says Europe is in a much stronger po­si­tion for trade be­cause of its larger pop­u­la­tion.

“It is a re­la­tion­ship of un­equals with such a larger mar­ket in Europe,” Bran­nen said. “The hard ev­i­dence num­bers of how things have changed since CETA will take three or four years be­fore we can say defini­tively, but the in­di­ca­tion is that it will have a net ben­e­fit for both the EU and Canada.”

How­ever, some fish­ery ex­ports have made their de­but in the EU with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of CETA. Ac­cord­ing to Byrne, since the elim­i­na­tion of a 7.5 per cent tar­iff on red­fish, the prod­uct was ex­ported into the Euro­pean mar­ket for the first time this year.

This fish­ery in par­tic­u­lar is a grow­ing re­source for New­found­land and Labrador, with stocks of red­fish be­com­ing more prom­i­nent on the west coast of the is­land. Fish, Food and Al­lied Work­ers (FFAW) union rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ja­son Spin­gle ex­pects this will soon be­come a ma­jor fish­ery for har­vesters in the area.

In 2017, the pro­cess­ing com­pany Barry Group and Cos. signed a deal with the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Na­tion Band to har­vest red­fish along western New­found­land. The quota is not ex­pected to be al­lo­cated un­til 2019.

In her rou­tine trips to the gro­cery stores of Brus­sels, Mur­phy has no­ticed an in­crease in Cana­dian lob­ster on their shelves. She says lob­ster is a sea­sonal prod­uct for Euro­peans, and there may be a huge jump in ex­port dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son in De­cem­ber. Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Lob­ster Coun­cil of Canada Ge­off Irvine is look­ing for­ward to what those end-of-year ex­ports for Cana­dian lob­ster to Europe will yield.

In the coun­cil’s num­bers for Au­gust of 2017 and 2018, ex­ports for Cana­dian lob­ster al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced a con­sid­er­able in­crease in some coun­tries. In Spain, over 61,500 kilo­grams of lob­ster were im­ported in Au­gust of 2017 and over 274,000 kilo­grams were im­ported this Au­gust. In France, the num­bers went from 135,000 kilo­grams in 2017 to over 183,000 kilo­grams in 2018 in the same month. Hun­gary, an EU mem­ber state that im­ported no Cana­dian lob­ster in Au­gust of 2017, im­ported over 24,000 kilo­grams this year.

On Nov. 21, Canada’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau re­leased a fall eco­nomic state­ment that called for a new strat­egy to boost Canada’s over­sea ex­ports 50 per cent by 2025.

MEP and chair of the Del­e­ga­tion for Re­la­tions with Canada Bernrd Kölmel sees that one way to bring more Cana­dian ex­ports into Europe is to en­sure brochures are avail­able, de­tail­ing where tar­iffs have been cut and what prod­ucts are most needed. This way com­pa­nies can bet­ter know what op­por­tu­ni­ties they can cap­i­tal­ize on.

“We have to do a lot more to show peo­ple what is pos­si­ble and a lot of com­pa­nies need ex­pe­ri­ence and trust in this,” said Kölmel. “We should open the mar­kets and the com­pa­nies should seek cus­tomers and see what ar­eas are most suc­cess­ful.”

Pro­cess­ing re­quire­ments and other prod­uct po­ten­tial

For New­found­land and Labrador, one area of con­tention was the loss of min­i­mum pro­cess­ing re­quire­ments as tar­iffs on fish­ery prod­ucts are re­duced.

In ex­change for re­mov­ing the tar­iffs on fish­ery prod­ucts, the prov­ince would also see a cut in the min­i­mum amount of raw ma­te­rial that had to be pro­cessed in New­found­land and Labrador. Be­cause it meant the pos­si­bil­ity of less ma­te­rial be­ing pro­cessed in the prov­ince and in­creased hard­ship on plants al­ready strug­gling for ma­te­rial, this caused con­flict dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions. Ac­cord­ing to Byrne, thus far there has been no move­ment of un­pro­cessed fish­ery prod­ucts into Europe and he ex­pects this trend will likely con­tinue into the fu­ture.

“It was a big ques­tion of our sovereignty be­ing lost,” said Byrne. “Fish would be leav­ing the prov­ince in bulk un­pro­cessed into the EU mar­ket. But for qual­ity and for cost rea­sons, the threat of hav­ing un­pro­cessed fish leav­ing New­found­land and Labrador is re­ally not sig­nif­i­cant.”

When in­ter­viewed in April of 2018, Sam El­liott of St. An­thony Basin Re­sources, Inc. noted the loss of min­i­mum pro­cess­ing re­quire­ments could in­cen­tivize plants to im­prove pro­cess­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties within the prov­ince.

“To take some­thing from here and carry it across an ocean to be pro­cessed, if you’re go­ing to try and do it in a fresh state, there’s time­lines and you’re work­ing against the clock,” El­liott said. “If they’ve got the tech­nol­ogy to take our prod­uct and main­tain the qual­ity in the time it takes to pro­duce it and put it to mar­ket, then we should be able to fig­ure out what that tech­nol­ogy is and do it bet­ter.”

Byrne says the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Land Re­sources is also look­ing into other po­ten­tial mar­kets, such as snow crab, and less used prod­ucts like sea­weed or blue mus­cles.

“Some of these prod­ucts, like sea urchins or sea cu­cum­bers, have even stronger value in the Asian mar­ket,” said Byrne. “So we have to tar­get prod­ucts that have the most po­ten­tial and pre­ex­ist­ing in­ter­est in each area. Vol­ume is as im­por­tant as price, and if our mar­kets are too spread out, we may find our­selves in less com­pet­i­tive sit­u­a­tions.”

The fu­ture of EU-Canada re­la­tions

The Euro­pean Union is faced with po­ten­tially ma­jor changes, from the United King­dom leav­ing the union through the Brexit ref­er­en­dum, to the rise of pop­ulist and right-wing par­ties call­ing for a more de-cen­tral­ized EU.

How­ever, Kölmel says Canada’s re­la­tion­ship with EU re­mains a bedrock for the in­sti­tu­tion, and it is very un­likely trade will be af­fected by any of these changes.

The suc­cess of CETA has also be­come a talk­ing point dur­ing Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions, par­tic­u­larly around us­ing CETA as a blue­print for the United King­dom’s fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the EU.

“Canada gets talked about much in the Bri­tish me­dia now,” Bran­nen said, who will be leav­ing his seat in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment once the UK de­parts the union. “There’s vari­a­tions on the idea of repli­cat­ing the trade deal struck with the EU and Canada as the kind of trade deal we would have once we leave.”

Cur­rently the United King­dom is the main Euro­pean part­ner for Cana­dian trade, and Brexit will mean a rene­go­ti­a­tion of the UK’s re­la­tion­ship with the coun­try.

“As it stands we’ll de­fault on WTO (World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion) terms, and then we have to go through the prod­ucts to see what this means,” Bran­nen said. “It’ll be back to square one, we have to ne­go­ti­ate as the UK alone our re­la­tion­ship with Canada. It’s pos­si­ble there will be tighter re­la­tions with the com­mon­wealth na­tions.”

FILE PHOTO

Cana­dian lob­ster is ex­pected to in­crease in ex­ports since its tar­iffs have been re­duced through CETA. As­sis­tant trade pol­icy of­fi­cer with the Euro­pean Union Clare Mur­phy says lob­ster is a sea­sonal prod­uct for Euro­peans, par­tic­u­larly pur­chased dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son in De­cem­ber.

KYLE GREENHAM—THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

Euro­pean Par­lia­ment MEP and vicechair of the Del­e­ga­tion for Re­la­tions with Canada Paul Bran­nen says Europe’s large pop­u­la­tion of over 500 mil­lion peo­ple has al­lowed the Euro­pean Union na­tions to take bet­ter ad­van­tage of ex­ports in the first year of CETA (Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment). Ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics Canada, since CETA went into im­ple­men­ta­tion, ex­ports into Canada have gone up by 12 per cent, whereas ex­ports to the EU from Canada have gone up less than one per cent.

KYLE GREENHAM—THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

Euro­pean Par­lia­ment MEP and chair of the Del­e­ga­tion for Re­la­tions with Canada Bernrd Kölmel says while there is po­ten­tial for se­ri­ous changes in Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in up­com­ing elec­tions, par­tic­u­larly from right-wing par­ties call­ing for a more de-cen­tral­ized Euro­pean Union, Canada’s re­la­tion­ship with the EU should re­main the same.

FILE PHOTO

Fish­er­man John Gil­lett says new op­por­tu­ni­ties for New­found­land and Labrador’s fish­ery cre­ated through CETA should be taken ad­van­tage of, par­tic­u­larly with the re­bound­ing cod fish­ery and the clo­sure of Notre Dame Seafoods plant in Twill­ingate.

KYLE GREENHAM—THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

Clare Mur­phy, as­sis­tant trade pol­icy of­fi­cer with the Euro­pean Union, was di­rectly in­volved with CETA ne­go­ti­a­tions in its be­gin­ning years, re­search­ing the tar­iffs and trade flow of Canada’s fish­ery prod­ucts into the EU mar­ket.

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