Liberal Trade Minister abandoned Peace Country workers, farmers and small businesses when she abandoned CETA deal
On Friday, the Liberal Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland walked out of talks with Belgian and European Leaders, putting at risk Canada’s Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement with Europe.
Europe is the fourth largest destination for Alberta’s exports and the free trade agreement would have reduced and eliminated tariffs on the majority of Peace Country exports, including beef, grain, honey and forest products.
Chris Warkentin, Member of Parliament for Grande Prairie – Mackenzie, stated that the Ministers decision to abandon trade talks will risk important economic opportunities for Peace Country residents.
“Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government have failed Peace Country forestry workers and family farms,” Warkentin said. “Instead of negotiating at a crucial time, the Trudeau government has thrown up their hands and simply given up.”
Under the previous Conservative governent, Canada and the European Union had agreed that the trade deal was mutually beneficial. The decision by the Liberals to try and renegotiate portions of the deal derailed the agreement.
The agreement would have eliminated grain tariffs costing Canadian farmers between $114-190/tonne, allowing Canadian grain to enter the European market duty-free. The deal would also have eliminated tariffs on Alberta’s forestry industry that are currently as high as 10%. Manufactured forest products like prefabricated buildings, plywood, and particle board would have been tariff free.
The trade agreement had an estimated potential to bring a 20 percent boost in bilateral trade with Europe and a $12-billion annual increase to Canada’s economy. This equates to a $1,000 boost to the average Canadian family’s income or almost 80,000 new jobs to the national economy.
Warkentin expressed his concern with the Liberals failure to finalize this deal that had so much potential for Peace Country residents.
“Many Peace Country residents were excited by the potential of new and lucrative markets for Peace Country products,” said Warkentin. “At a time when we desperately need good jobs we were counting on these new opportunities.”
“Walking out on negotiations in the final hours is a major failure in leadership,” Warkentin continued. “We are hopeful that the Prime Minister will personally engage on this file and clean up the mess his Trade Minister has made.”