Submitted by Ian T. Howcroft, Vice President, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) Ontario. In CME’s recent Management Issues Survey, one of the key issues is the need to expand markets, and one of the key areas of opportunity is Europe. Consequently, CME has supported the conclusion of the CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) negotiations. These negotiations have the potential to help Canadian manufacturers and exporters diversify their sales into new export markets, increase their presence in Europe and position Canada as a more attractive destination for manufacturing investment by giving Canadian companies privileged, duty-free access to the largest market in the world.
The statistics and opportunities in Europe are extremely impressive-$17 trillion GDP. Currently, Europe is our second largest export market after the US. Last year Canadian businesses exported a record $40 billion worth of goods to Europe, which represented 9% of Canada’s exports. Two way investment is also significant. EU investment totaled over $160 billion in 2009 while Canadian investment was approximately $150 billion. Concluding CETA is, therefore, an opportunity that will enhance our economic relationships with Europe by removing barriers to conducting transatlantic business.
CME has been following these negotiations for several reasons: First, they could set the stage and build the framework on which future trade agreements will be built. CETA is more ambitious than other trade agreements, such as NAFTA. It goes farther on labour mobility, access to sub-national procurement markets, intellectual property protection, and dealing with technical barriers to trade. Second, CETA could help Canadian manufacturers grow their business in Europe, and attract global production and research mandates to Canada. Finally, these negotiations could reshape entire industries.
Much still needs to be done before the negotiations can conclude. CME’s priority is to ensure that the agreement leads to a net economic benefit to Canadian manufacturers. CME will continue to provide our input to the government and the negotiators, and the next few months will be critical. CME will also work to ensure that Canadian manufacturers can take advantage of the agreement to maximize their growth potential.
About CME – Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is Canada’s leading trade and industry association, and the voice of manufacturing and global business in Canada. For more information, visit www.cme-mec.ca.