Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Joe Oliver, met with the full board of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in Toronto on Nov. 12. The following is an excerpt of his prepared speech, as it relates to the proposed Canada-European Union free trade agreement, formally called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which is supported in principle by the PDAC.
Our government is working hard to position Canada to take full advantage of growth in emerging economies. Key to achieving this success will be market access through new infrastructure and market diversification.
Your industry is ahead of the curve in this regard — with markets and market access already well-established worldwide.
As you know, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso recently announced an agreement-in-principle on a free trade agreement with the European Union.
The Canada–EU trade agreement is by far Canada’s most ambitious trade initiative ever. The EU is the largest economy in the world — with its 27 member states, 500 million consumers and annual economic activity of $17 trillion. The agreement will open new markets to Canadian exporters throughout Europe and generate significant benefits, jobs and opportunities for all Canadians.
It has been estimated that benefits from this trade agreement will be equivalent to increasing the average Canadian household’s annual income by $1,000 — or adding almost 80,000 new jobs to Canada’s economy.
Workers in every region of the country will feel the advantages – including in Canada’s exploration and mining industries. When it takes effect, the agreement will eliminate substantially all EU tariffs on metals and mineral products. For example, in the case of iron and steel, we anticipate tariff elimination as high as seven percent.
The value of these goods is, of course, enormous. Canada exported over $20 billion worth of metals and mineral products to the EU annually between 2010 and 2012, led by precious gems and metals.
In addition to metals and mineral products, EU tariffs on mining technology products, such as surveying instruments, will all be eliminated immediately upon entry-into-force of the agreement.
The services provisions of the Canada-EU trade agreement will also benefit PDAC members, providing you with better access than that provided to any other competing company from other non-EU countries, including from other EU free trade agreement partners. These provisions will allow for secure and predictable access in areas of Canadian expertise such as research and development, technical testing and analysis, and environmental services.
Substantive provisions on licensing and qualification requirements and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications will make it easier for businesspeople in the mining sector to work in the EU and Canada. This means increased transparency and predictability for professionals such as engineers, site investigators and scientific and technical consultants.
Finally, Canadian investors in the European mining sector will benefit from stronger EU market access commitments. The agreement will bolster two-way investment by establishing a predictable, rules-based investment climate and providing a high standard of protection for investors and their investments in the mining sector, including commitments on non-discrimination, protection against expropriation without prompt and adequate compensation, and access to investor-to-state dispute settlement.
As you know, mineral exploration, production and processing takes place in every region of Canada. The EU trade agreement will benefit both urban and rural workers from coast to coast, including Aboriginal and northern communities…
We know that Canadian companies can compete and can win in global markets. And when our companies succeed abroad, jobs and growth are created here at home.