OTTAWA—The president of Canada’s largest private sector union is calling on the federal government to release details of the trade pact inked with the European Union last month.
Speaking to the federal Standing Committee on International Trade in Ottawa, Unifor national president Jerry Dias expressed concern about the scant details that have been released so far about the proposed free trade deal with Europe, urging that the full text of the deal be made public.
“In free trade deals like this there will be positive outcomes for some industries and there will be cause for concern in others,” Dias told the committee about the so-called Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
“The key issue in our view is to figure out how the CETA balances the two and then determine if that balance is in the best interests of Canadians.”
Dias drew on a number of industries, all represented by Unifor, to outline why the details released so far about the deal are cause for concern.
In the auto industry, he said, there is already a large trade deficit, with Europe selling $5.6-billion worth of cars into Canada, while Canada exports only $269-million.
This amounts to a trade deficit of more than $5.3-billion.
The situation continues to worsen, with imports from Europe more than doubling since 1999.
“CETA will make this bad trade situation with Europe even worse,” Dias said in his presentation. “No-one I speak with in the (auto) industry thinks Canada’s auto industry will be a net winner from this deal.
Much the same is true in forestry, according to Dias.
“Canada already has tariff-free status for our main exports of cut lumber and newsprint, and there are limited markets for the plywood and oriented strand board where tariffs will be cut,” he said. “We import, however, 10 times the amount of furniture from Europe as we sell them.”
Dias said Canadian governments need to have the ability to balance industrial development policies to enhance Canada’s ability to manufacture value-added goods and create good jobs for our young people.
As part of his decision, Dias recommended to the committee that the federal government release the full text of the deal as soon as possible.
He also urged a ruling that CETA can only be ratified once the House of Commons and each provincial and territorial parliament vote in favour of it.