CENTRAL NOVA REPORT BY PETER MACKAY
On Oct. 18, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Belgium to sign a historical agreement between Canada and the European Union entitled the Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement. This agreement, which has been called the largest and most ambitious trade agreement Canada has ever signed, provides major opportunities for job creation, economic growth, and long term prosperity. Our province’s proud history is shaped by trade, and this agreement is a new and exciting chapter for both Nova Scotia and Canada. In particular, Nova Scotia stands to benefit due to its proximity to large European markets.
This new Trade Agreement offers Nova Scotian producers, fishermen and women, manufacturers, brokers, and industrialists, key access points and opportunities for market expansion. The EU has 28 member nations, a total population of over 500 million people, and annual economic activity of $17 trillion. With this agreement, roughly 98 per cent of the 9,000 EU tariffs on Canadian imports will be removed allowing our businesses in Central Nova and across Nova Scotia the opportunity to compete in this massive new market. Previously, tariffs on certain imported Canadian products such as shellfish and cod could have reached up to 25 per cent. Under this new agreement, tariffs will be dropped completely and all goods will have the ability to be exported duty-free.
We in Nova Scotia are well positioned to benefit from increased trade with our European neighbours. Our ports, rails, and highways will all see increased traffic as more Canadian goods are shipped eastward. In Central Nova, fishermen along the Northumberland Strait and Guysborough, manufacturers in New Glasgow, and farmers in Antigonish County will all see crippling tariffs and duties removed, making their goods more affordable and competitive for European consumers.
During a meeting with local business leaders at the Museum of Industry about this historical agreement, the message from local producers, farmers, and manufacturers was clear: the removal of red tape and barriers to trade will enable our businesses and entrepreneurs to reach new markets and a wider consumer base to sell their products. I am proud to say our Conservative government has taken action to do exactly that. Our top priority will continue to be to strengthen Canada’s economy and create long-term prosperity for hard-working Canadian families.
The free trade agreement now in place between Canada and the European Union is a game changer. As Nova Scotians, our proximity and ability to enter this major market ensures that our economic future will be brightened and bolstered by international trade.
Peter MacKay is MP for Central Nova and federal Minister of Justice.