POLITICS

Ontario worries about auto industry in Canada-South Korea deal

03/10/2014 05:23 EDT | Updated 05/10/2014 05:59 EDT
Ontario is worried Korean-made automobiles will flood the country, putting thousands of jobs in Canada's auto sector at risk, under the terms of a yet-to-be-announced trade deal between Canada and South Korea.

A source familiar with the negotiations told CBC News that Ontario is "very concerned" about the length of the phase-out period for the 6.1 per cent tariff, to be announced late this afternoon at briefings in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

The province would like to see the longest phase-out possible, but is disappointed that the federal government has not managed to acquire the seven- or even five-year phase-out period that the EU and U.S. were able to negotiate.

Ontario is also disappointed that the federal government has not been able to negotiate a "snap-back" provision, like the U.S., which would allow Canada to reimpose tariffs if Korea puts up non-tariff barriers such as strict requirements on engine size, which are prejudicial to North American vehicles.

In light of this, Ontario will be asking the federal government to create a task force, including government and industry representatives that would monitor the deal.

Optimistic about agriculture sector

The task force would report publicly on the level of imports of Korean vehicles and would investigate and report publicly every quarter on any non-tariff barriers being put up.

"If any remedial action on the agreement is needed, we'll know," the source said.

The province is more optimistic about other parts of the deal around food processing and agriculture. It will put Ontario back on an even playing field with the U.S. and EU.

South Korea is Canada’s third largest trading partner in Asia, after China and Japan, with two-way trade reaching nearly $10.1 billion in 2012, according to the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

Canada’s exports to South Korea totalled $3.7 billion in 2012, with top exports including mineral fuels and oils, cereals wood pulp, mineral ores, and meat.

Canada’s imports from South Korea totalled $6.3 billion with top imports including vehicles, electrical and electronic equipment, machinery, mineral fuels and oils, and iron and steel.