© Guardian photo by Teresa Wright
Egmont MP Gail Shea in her Charlottetown office
Editor: Please allow me to respond to the article published in the Charlottetown Guardian on March 7 with regard to the Canada European Union Trade Agreement.
The coalition seems to have not noticed the many benefits Canada has enjoyed since the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and subsequently the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Mexico. Although the same fears expressed by the coalition existed at that time as well.
People opposed to those agreements said Canada would be destroyed. They claimed all our social programs and Canada’s marketing systems would disappear. Our environment would be ruined. No one would be eligible for medical coverage or old age pensions and annexation would surely be the end result. These were the outrageous claims made by those in opposition to Free Trade in 1988 and 1993.
Since those agreements were put in place Canada’s Gross Domestic Product has risen by nearly $1.2 trillion. Canada has gained some four million new jobs and our trade with the United States and Mexico has nearly tripled.
In the same way, experts predict that Canada’s historic agreement in principle with the European Union will produce economic benefits across the board in all regions of Canada.
Prince Edward Islanders stand to benefit significantly from preferred access to the EU market. The EU is already the province’s second-largest trading partner and export destination. CETA will eliminate tariffs on P.E.I. exports and provide access to new market opportunities in the EU. In fact, on the first day CETA comes into force almost 96 per cent of EU tariff lines for fish and seafood will be duty-free.
Higher sales can lead to more jobs, higher wages and greater long-term prosperity, directly benefiting hard-working Islanders. For example EU tariffs will be eliminated on: live lobster, frozen lobster, processed lobster and mussels.
The same will occur in the agriculture sector with 94 per cent of the EU tariffs lifted on processed potato goods such as French fires, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, including frozen blueberries and many processed goods.
Contrary to the allegations expressed by the coalition, provinces and territories have been active participants in the negotiations as well as municipalities and stakeholders across the country from key sectors of our economy. We have already made public detailed information on this historic agreement.
I encourage people to access this information from the Government of Canada’s website. www.actionplan.gc.ca/CETA
Hon. Gail Shea,
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans