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Canada-EU Trade Agreement a Big Win for Quebec, Ministers Fast and Paradis Say

Deeper trade with European Union will bring jobs and long-term prosperity to hard-working Quebecers

March 25, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, accompanied by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture), today discussed the many benefits an ambitious Canada-EU trade agreement will bring to Quebec’s workers and businesses during a round-table session with the Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec [manufacturers and exporters of Quebec] (MEQ). 

“Our government is committed to the priorities of workers and businesses in Quebec: jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity,” said Minister Fast. “Quebec’s chemicals and plastics industry is one of the province’s largest manufacturing sectors, employing tens of thousands of people. EU demand for value-added and specialty products is growing in a wide variety of areas. Quebec’s strengths and expertise in this sector mean that its companies are well placed to meet this demand in the lucrative EU market.”

Quebec’s exports of chemicals and plastics to the EU were worth an average of $159 million annually between 2010 and 2012. Current EU tariffs on Canadian chemicals and plastics average 4.9 percent, with peaks of 6.5 percent. These tariff barriers would be eliminated immediately upon entry into force of an ambitious Canada-EU trade agreement.

“A comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union would make a positive contribution to Quebec’s chemical industry, an economic gem that employs nearly 25,000 people in the province,” said Sâadia Lakehal, Director General of the Association pour le Développement et l'Innovation en Chimie au Québec [association for chemical development and innovation in Quebec].

“A comprehensive trade agreement with the EU will bring benefits to every region of Quebec,” said Minister Paradis. “Key industries in the province’s economy, including metal and mineral products—and particularly the aluminum industry—agriculture and manufacturing, will benefit from the agreement. Increasing Quebec’s exports to the mass EU market will create new jobs and new opportunities for workers and business throughout Quebec.”

Quebec’s exports of aluminum to the EU averaged $586.6 million annually between 2010 and 2012. EU tariffs averaging 6.3 percent, with peaks of 10 percent, would be eliminated as a result of an ambitious Canada-EU trade agreement.

“We support the government’s efforts toward a free trade agreement with the European Union, which would help strengthen the competitiveness of aluminum products and offer preferential access to the European Union market,” said Jean Simard, President of the Aluminum Association of Canada. “The aluminum industry would benefit from the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.”

“It is important for manufacturing companies to increase export volumes and diversify shipments, whether in terms of the products they are shipping or the places they are shipping them,” said Simon Prévost, President of MEQ. “Despite the recent tough economic times in Europe, the European market still offers significant and growing opportunities for Canadian companies. We are very pleased to see the negotiations for a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union move forward.”

The EU is Canada’s second-largest trading partner and, with more than 500 million consumers and a GDP of over $17 trillion, the world’s largest integrated economy. The ongoing trade negotiations with the EU represent Canada’s most significant trade initiative since the historic North American Free Trade Agreement.

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A backgrounder detailing the benefits for Quebec of a potential Canada-EU trade agreement follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade

Backgrounder - Quebec and a Trade Agreement with the EU

The European Union is the world’s largest economy and also the world’s largest importing market for goods. As a result, the EU offers tremendous opportunities for Canadian exporters and hard-working Canadians in every region of the country.

A joint Canada-EU study—conducted before comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA) negotiations began—found that an ambitious agreement could boost Canada’s income by $12 billion annually and bilateral trade by 20 percent. Put another way, the economic benefit would be equivalent to creating almost 80,000 new jobs or increasing the average Canadian household’s annual income by $1,000. This is like adding the current total number of jobs in the cities of Saguenay or Trois-Rivières to the Canadian economy.

The EU is Quebec’s second-largest export market and trading partner. A CETA would eliminate or reduce tariffs on Quebec’s key exports, provide access to new market opportunities in the EU and permanently lock in the duty-free access to the EU market that many Quebec exporters currently benefit from. Exporters would also benefit from other CETA provisions, such as those that would ease regulatory barriers to trade, protect exporters’ intellectual property and ensure more transparent rules for market access.

Overall, Quebec stands to gain much from a CETA. For example, Quebec is a world leader in mineral exploration, mining and mineral processing. Quebec exported, on average, $2 billion worth of metals and mineral products to the EU annually between 2010 and 2012. Key exports included aluminum, iron and steel products, and mineral products such as iron ore. Quebec’s exports of aluminum to the EU averaged $586.6 million annually between 2010 and 2012.

These aluminum exports faced EU tariffs averaging 6.3 percent, with peaks of 10 percent. As a result of a CETA, EU tariffs on aluminum and aluminum products would be eliminated.

Quebec is also home to a diversified chemicals and plastics sector. One quarter of Canada’s plastics companies are located in Quebec. The chemicals and plastics industries provide essential materials to many other sectors of the economy, including the automotive and health-care industries. Quebec’s exports of chemicals and plastics to the EU were worth an average of $159 million annually between 2010 and 2012. Canadian chemicals and plastics exports to the EU faced average tariffs of 4.9 percent, with peaks of 6.5 percent.

A CETA would immediately eliminate EU tariffs on all chemicals and plastics upon entry into force, creating new opportunities for exports from Quebec.