The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Federal government welcomes Senate's free trade recommendations
February 6, 2018
A Senate committee report on free trade will guide the federal government’s approach to the negotiation and implementation of future free trade agreements.
In a response to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s February 2017 report, Free Trade Agreements: A Tool for Economic Prosperity, International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the “comprehensive” report’s recommendations “will serve to guide Government approaches moving forward on Canada’s trade and investment agenda and its engagement with Canadians.”
The report noted that free trade agreements are essential to Canada’s economic well-being but argued for a new approach that is more transparent and that encourages greater public engagement. This new approach would include a formal public consultation process and require the government to articulate the rationale for a given trade deal so Canadians can later assess whether it has met its objectives.
Senators also recommended that cabinet ministers be more engaged with parliamentarians — many of whom have considerable expertise to offer — on a regular basis; the committee has recommended quarterly reports to the Senate and House of Commons international trade committees.
The committee is encouraged by the government’s reaction to the report, but cautioned that the government has not formally committed to implementing the report’s recommendations.
Minister Champagne suggested he attend a future committee meeting to discuss the report; the committee looks forward to hearing from him.
- Canada’s trade with the world is equal in size to 64% of the country’s national income.
- Approximately one out of five Canadian jobs are directly or indirectly related to exports.
- Canada is the second most industrialized economy among G7 countries (behind Germany).
- Canada is fourth in the G20 in terms of the importance of trade relative to the economy. (behind South Korea, Germany and Mexico)
“It is the purpose of every Senate study to assist the federal government of the day in the development and implementation of policy. Trade agreements, in both the negotiation and implementation stages, are fundamental to the economic welfare of all Canadians. We look forward to working with Minister Champagne to implement a more transparent approach to free trade negotiations.”
- Senator Raynell Andreychuk, Chair of the committee
“We urge Minister Champagne to commit to a more transparent process; our committee believes this will lead to trade agreements that will result in greater benefits for all Canadians. We look forward to welcoming the minister to a future committee hearing.”
- Senator Anne Cools, Deputy Chair of the committee
- Read the report, Free Trade Agreements: A tool for economic prosperity and highlights from the report.
- Read the federal government’s response.
- Follow the committee on social media using the hashtag #AEFA.
- Sign up for the Senate’s eNewsletter.
For more information, please contact:
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Senate of Canada
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