PM bashes NDP over trade deal

The Prince George Citizen - - Money -

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau called out New Democrats Thurs­day af­ter their leader en­cour­aged French of­fi­cials to re­ject the com­pre­hen­sive trade agree­ment be­tween the Euro­pean Union and Canada.

Ear­lier this week Jag­meet Singh, along with Green Leader El­iz­a­beth May and five other Canadian and Que­bec politi­cians, signed a let­ter urg­ing law­mak­ers in France not to rat­ify the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment, or CETA.

As an EU-Canada trade sum­mit wrapped up in Mon­treal Thurs­day, Trudeau asked who Canada should trade freely with if not its Euro­pean al­lies, calling the NDP stance “un­for­tu­nate.”

“You have to ask the ques­tion of peo­ple like the NDP in Canada: If you don’t think that we should have a free trade deal with Europe – as pro­gres­sive, pos­i­tive and aligned as they are – then with whom would the NDP want to sign a trade deal?” Trudeau asked.

The NDP fired back, say­ing a “rushed” rat­i­fi­ca­tion is “what’s re­ally un­for­tu­nate,” threat­en­ing jobs, in­creas­ing med­i­ca­tion costs and hurt­ing dairy pro­duc­ers.

The NDP also drew at­ten­tion to a con­tro­ver­sial CETA mech­a­nism to re­solve dis­putes be­tween govern­ments and in­vestors, the In­ter­na­tional Court Sys­tem, which New Demo­crat spokes­woman Nina Am­rov called “un­de­fined” and friend­lier to cor­po­ra­tions than tax­pay­ers.

So far, 13 EU coun­tries have rat­i­fied the pact, which nonethe­less went into force pro­vi­sion­ally in Sep­tem­ber 2017, elim­i­nat­ing tar­iffs on more than 90 per cent of goods flow­ing be­tween Canada and the EU.

The ben­e­fits have been un­even, how­ever, as Euro­pean busi­nesses ramped up ex­ports right out of the gate while Canadian ex­porters were slower to boost trade.

In 2018, EU goods im­ports from Canada de­clined by two per cent to roughly $46 bil­lion, though alu­minum, mo­tor ve­hi­cles and parts, and other sec­tors saw ma­jor gains.

Mean­while, EU ex­ports to Canada shot up 10 per cent to about $62 bil­lion last year, in­creas­ing the deficit in goods trade by more than two-thirds to $10.4 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

Agri-food ex­ports to the EU have dropped 10 per cent since CETA’s 2017 en­try into force.

Brian Innes, head of the Canadian AgriFood Trade Al­liance, crit­i­cized “pro­tec­tion­ist” coun­try-of-ori­gin la­belling rules in Italy.

“The con­se­quences of these non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers are real – they’re shut­ting out a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of Canadian agri-food ex­ports from the EU mar­ket,” Innes said in a re­lease.

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