Report of the committee
Thursday, October 25, 2018
The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-79, An Act to implement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, October 17, 2018, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment but with certain observations, which are appended to this report.
A. RAYNELL ANDREYCHUK
to the Nineteenth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Bill C-79)
Taking into consideration the testimony heard during the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s (“the committee”) study of Bill C-79, as well as the findings in the committee’s report entitled Free Trade Agreements: A Tool for Economic Prosperity tabled on February 7, 2017, the committee makes the following observations for consideration by the Government of Canada:
1. The committee is aware, based on testimony and written submissions it received, that potentially adverse effects could impact the competitiveness of some Canadian industries, including in the agricultural sector, if Canada is not among the first six countries to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The committee recognizes the potential benefits of the CPTPP and understands the significance that Canada be among those first six countries to ratify the agreement to ensure that Canadian businesses are not put at a competitive disadvantage. The committee prepared for the study of Bill C-79 by reviewing its recent examination of benefits and challenges associated with free trade agreements (FTAs) as well as past experience studying various FTA implementation bills. The committee also closely monitored the work previously accomplished by the House of Commons Standing committee on International Trade regarding the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and took into consideration analysis it received that compared changes between the CPTPP and the TPP.
2. In this instance, the committee understands the importance for Canada to be one of the first six ratifying countries of the CPTPP. Nevertheless, it reiterates that parliamentarians require sufficient time to study comprehensive, complex and technical FTA implementing legislation.
3. In addition, the committee notes the significance of regulations relevant to the implementation of an FTA, and underscores that the federal government should work closely with impacted stakeholders when developing those regulations. As well, considering that regulatory changes are not part of an FTA implementation bill, information regarding relevant regulations should be shared with parliamentarians in the context of their study of FTA implementing legislation.
4. Moreover, the committee insists on reiterating an observation from its 2017 report on FTAs: promoting trade is about much more than signing FTAs. In line with a recommendation made in that same report, the Government of Canada should develop a robust FTA implementation strategy designed to help Canadian businesses maximize the benefits of the CPTPP. Such a strategy should include the mobilization of federal trade promotion services to ensure that they are ready to fully support Canadian businesses interested in CPTPP markets. Such an implementation strategy should be made available as soon as possible after the agreement enters into force. The committee also emphasizes that coherence between trade and economic policies is critical to help Canadians compete and succeed in the global marketplace.
5. Furthermore, the Government of Canada should identify federal measures intended to mitigate the CPTPP’s potentially adverse impacts, including transition programs for Canadian workers and industries negatively affected by that FTA.
6. Finally, the Government of Canada should ensure that FTA provisions on labour rights and standards are consistently enforced, and that such provisions are designed in a manner that can meet their underlying objectives.