CETA will benefit firms, consumers

Free-trade deal with the European Union gives Canadian producers a competitive edge, creating jobs and growth
BY DARREN ENTWISTLE AND STOCKWELL DAY, SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE NOVEMBER 18, 2013

CETA w ill give Quebec cheese producers “preferred partner” advantage in the EU market. Photograph by: Vincenzo D'Alto, The Gazette

There are few things more important to the well-being of Canadians than the strength and sustainability of our nation’s economy. Our collective ability to create family-supporting jobs and fund critical government services, such as health care and education, is profoundly connected to our country’s ability to succeed and flourish within a global context. The success of this effort will be measured not by us, but by our children and grandchildren who inherit our economic legacy. It is for this reason that we are offering our public support to the government as they work diligently to finalize CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) — the most significant trade agreement in a generation. We are convinced that the agreement with the European Union will prove beneficial to businesses and consumers alike, adding an estimated $12 billion annually to our GDP. Canadian importers and exporters will benefit from sharply reduced tariffs and from increased access to European markets with a population exceeding 500 million. Consumers will benefit from greater competition, and working Canadians will benefit as our economy expands to meet increased demand. More than 60 per cent of our GDP is directly tied to trade, and nearly one out of every two dollars of Canadian manufacturing output is sold as exports from Canada. A major dividend from CETA will be diversification. Overreliance on any single distribution channel is risky for any business, regardless of the strength of the relationship with the distribution partner.

Diversifying our trade policy through CETA will complement our substantial trade with the U.S. and will, at the same time, strengthen our capacity to manage relations with our southern neighbour. Any responsible business person or investor understands the fundamental importance of managing risk by investing in multiple channels. The CETA provides the Canadian economy with a lever by which we can mitigate risk while continuing to capitalize on the success of our current trade relationships. Canadian companies and producers will have a significant, “preferred partner” advantage in the EU market — giving Canadian business and producers a competitive edge, enabling them to create jobs and opportunities for growth in all regions of Canada. The CETA will also lock in fair and predictable conditions for business, reduce or eliminate unnecessary red tape and ensure equivalent, nondiscriminatory treatment for companies and goods in Canada and the EU. Canada has enjoyed unprecedented economic success from previous free-trade agreements, notably NAFTA. We have demonstrated that we can compete with the best when the rules of engagement are fair and balanced. Trade is the indispensable driver of economic growth for Canada, and we hope that success with CETA will sponsor more of the same with major Asian economies. Free trade and liberalization of foreign ownership rules will undoubtedly expose incumbent Canadian organizations to increased competition, including in the telecommunications industry. We wholeheartedly support this approach. Indeed, we welcome healthy competition, and we believe that most Canadian entrepreneurs would share this view given the opportunities that free trade provides. As a nation, we are innovative and tenacious. We embrace the opportunity to compete with the most sophisticated and innovative organizations from around the globe. The level of access to foreign markets that free trade agreements like CETA affords us presents every Canadian organization with the exciting opportunity to compete and win internationally. The legacy of any government will be drawn from the strategic decisions made today that help us build strong, healthy and sustainable communities into the future. Political leaders have an obligation to do more than simply govern; they must conceive of and implement big ideas that change the future prospects of a nation. That is what is at stake for Canada with CETA, and we salute the government for its leadership in concluding the agreement. We applaud the government’s move to strengthen our trade relationship with the European Union, and look forward to such future agreements with additional trading partners around the world. Darren Entwistle is the President of TELUS and Stockwell Day is the Director of TELUS.

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