The Canada-E.U. Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiations are based on commitments to place corporate rights before social and economic justice, democratic control, and ecological sustainability. Negotiations are progressing quickly and with little public scrutiny until now.
The proposed Canada-EU CETA will likely exacerbate current trade flows as well as widen trade imbalances. Canada maintains a colossal trade deficit with our European cousins. In 2008 we imported $17 billion more in goods than we exported to the EU. Much of that is because of a lingering trade deficit in manufactured goods, particularly automobiles. In fact, for every $1 we export in autos to the EU we import $15.30!
Canada doesn’t fare much better in services either, with a trade deficit of $4 billion (2007 figures).
Where’s the value?
With a trade deficit in value-added goods we stand to lose jobs that fuel innovation, foster advanced manufacturing practices and generate important spin-offs. For years, Canada has purchased far more technologically sophisticated goods like autos, machinery, pharmaceuticals, airplane and turbojet components than it has sold to the EU – thanks, mainly, to direct interventionist and active economic development policies championed by European governments.
Instead, Canada stands to gain mostly through the sale of raw materials like unwrought gold, oil and petroleum products, diamonds and other precious metals.
This is especially concerning since Canada has lost over 550,000 good-paying manufacturing and processing sector jobs in recent years due to an overinflated dollar driven by a steady global resource boom. This trend is made worse by the steady deterioration in the quality of service jobs across the country, both in the public and private sectors.
Why is the Conservative government relentlessly pushing this deal forward?
For starters, Prime Minister Harper has made it perfectly clear his vision of Canada is to compete as a global energy and resource superpower. He aims to open up foreign markets to increase the outward flow of resources – even if it means taking short-term gain (more foreign investment in resources, a hyper-inflated currency, temporary uptick in employment numbers) regardless of the long term pain (unsustainable model of economic development, decline in industrial productivity, loss of manufacturing capacity, impact on services).
We will all lose by continuing down this pace of economic under-development. The Canada-EU CETA will only serve to make things worse.
What should we do?
Call your municipal councillors, provincial politicians and your Member of Parliament. Find out if they are in favour of this deal. If so, ask them how it would affect your community. Ask how it would strengthen Canada’s social, economic and environmental policies.
Tell us about your conversations. Link to the website. Share the materials. Learn more at tradejustice.ca.