Posted on 28 June 2012
Charlottetown Senator Percy Downe expressed his concerns this week with regard to Bill C-23, the Canada–Jordan Trade Agreement, specifically relating to the Conservative Government using limited resources to pursue trade deals with small countries.
Senator Downe questioned if such agreements are the most efficient use of the Government’s time and effort, especially at a time of cutbacks. He cited figures that indicate that, in several instances, free trade agreements have exacerbated trade deficits rather than improved Canada’s trade position.
“Statistics from Industry Canada indicate that in 1996, the year before our free trade agreement with Israel, we had a trade deficit of just under $27million. Last year our trade deficit with Israel had grown to over $580million. Our trade with Chile, with whom we also began free trade in 1997, went from a surplus of $73million in 1996 to a deficit of over a billion dollars in 2011. It goes on: the year free trade with Costa Rica began, 2003, our trade deficit was almost $226 million. Last year it was over $315 million. In the two years since we entered into free trade with Peru, our trade deficit went from under two and a half billion dollars to almost $3.9 billion,” said Downe.
Senator Downe also wondered why this Government is placing so much emphasis on a trade deal with a country that ranks eighty-eighth in a list of markets for Canadian exports, all the while not applying enough resources to concluding a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union which was scheduled to be concluded in 2011, but continues to be delayed.
“Our two-way trade totalled just under $89 million dollars last year. The exports of my home province, Prince Edward Island, to Jordan amounted to $67 last year. Indeed, if Canada’s exports to Jordan were to double overnight, it would make that country as important a market for Canada as the Dominican Republic,” stated Downe.
“Canadians have a right to wonder if this Government is making the best use of its diplomatic resources, and is paying due attention to our larger trade relationships,” concluded Downe.
The Canada-Jordan Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2009, but as a result of repeated delays, the Bill to implement it was only passed by the House of Commons earlier this month.
For further information:
Senator Percy Downe: 613-943-8107
Or toll free at 1-800-267-7362