by Maude Barlow and Sujata Dey
With every new free-trade agreement comes the promise of shiny new jobs and economic prosperity.
CETA, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade agreement, is no different.
Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, has repeatedly promised an 80,000 job windfall from CETA. A Google search shows that this is one of the government's main CETA talking points. According to Blacklock's Reporter, "The Prime Minister's Office in 2013 first cited the jobs claim after signing the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement."
Suspicious, Liberal Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette hired an economic sleuth to track down the numbers. Wednesday, they came up...empty. Worse, similar job creation claims by Export Development Canada were based on stale 2004 figures, which predate the 2008 economic crisis whose tectonic forces drastically impacted Canada's manufacturing and export landscape
In Radio-Canada article, Hervieux-Payette says that the "official" numbers are actually fictional. Her study reports that is "impossible to verify the calculation." Furthermore, "the data and methodology used are not accessible to neither the public or Parliament." [Free translation]
In Le Devoir reported the Senator as saying, "Nowhere in the documents does the federal government demonstrate how it came to promise that 80,000 new jobs would see the day thanks to a commercial agreement with Europe. All the references to this data originate in the testimony of International Trade Minister Ed Fast to the 2011 parliamentary committee. The promised figure has never been supported either by statistics or economic data." [Free translation]
But surely the government must have a source? Again, the government sent Le Devoir their figures.
"The Trade Minister had sent to Le Devoir, a paragraph restating these same statistics. The e-mail referred back to the preliminary CETA study conducted by the European Commission and Canada. Now, that is exactly the same study which 'does not mention the 80,000 jobs supposedly arising from the agreement.'" [Free translation]
In other words, they sent the reporter in a circle.
Many economists have sent out search parties for the 80,000 jobs and have also come up cold. Jim Stanford, Unifor economist, has said that the job projections are out of SimCity, not the real world. "The subsidiary claim that CETA will produce 80,000 new jobs is more than unrealistic. It is intellectually dishonest."
An article in the New York Times states, "It is one of the basic principles of economics that trade is good and more trade is better. But...some economists have come to doubt the relevance of that orthodoxy. The costs of globalization have been greater and more enduring than they expected, and government efforts to mitigate the impact on American workers have often proved insufficient."
In the article, Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University economist and Nobel laureate, said the magnitude of these losses was large enough that increased trade may now be harming the American economy. "The argument was always that the winners could compensate the losers," Mr. Stiglitz said. "But the winners never do. And that becomes particularly relevant when we have a society with as much inequality as we have today."
The Council of Canadians' campaign against CETA.
Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians.
Sujata Dey is the Trade Campaigner at the Council of Canadians.
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The Canada-China FIPA isn’t a complete trade deal. It’s more like one chapter of a trade deal -- the chapter that deals with protecting investors’ rights. Under these agreements, foreign companies gain the right to sue the host country in an international tribunal that doesn’t answer to national courts. Critics say this essentially gives foreign companies the ability to trump Canadian laws. True, but under the Canada-China FIPA, a Chinese investor or business will have to prove they were subjected to different rules than would apply to a local investor or business. That strongly limits the extent to which Canadian laws can be challenged at the tribunals, and Canada’s ability to pass environmental and other laws likely won’t be as constrained as critics say. Canada will still be able to reject major investments from Chinese companies.Supporters of the Canada-China FIPA say Canada needs a deal like this with China because we are running a $30-billion-a year trade deficit with the country. To get our money back, we need Chinese investment, and the FIPA gives investors the confidence they need to put their money here.
In the treaty, the government retained the right to hide documents filed in a lawsuit against Canada under the Canada-China FIPA. This is despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that these rulings can go against Canadian government policy.
This trade treaty, meant to last a generation, got an hour of debate in front of the House of Commons’ trade committee, and that’s it.
NAFTA can be terminated in six months, but the Canada-China FIPA runs a minimum of 15 years, has a one-year notice of termination period, and extends rights to Chinese companies already operating in Canada by 15 years after the deal is cancelled.Supporters of the deal say the at minimum 31-year timeline makes sense for protecting long-term investments and projects.
So far, FIPAs have been advantageous to Canadian business because they have largely protected Canadian investments in other countries. (“Canadian mining companies are using FIPAs with developing countries to claim damages from community opposition to unwanted mega-projects,” the Council of Canadians reports.)But with China, Canada is on the other side of that equation — it’s largely the destination country for investment. “Canada will be much more exposed to claims and corresponding constraints” than China under the deal, Osgoode law prof Gus Van Harten writes.Though the deal sets up the same protections for Canadians investing in China as for Chinese investors in Canada, it creates “de facto non-reciprocity,” Van Harten argues, because of the imbalance in the trade relationship.
Even if a Chinese citizen owns a small portion of a Canadian company, they will be able to use the tribunals set up under the FIPA, Van Harten says.
British Columbia’s Hupacasath First Nation launched a court challenge on the constitutionality of the deal in January, 2013, arguing the government had violated its responsibility to consult with first nations on constitutional and treaty issues. The B.C. Supreme Court rejected that argument in October, 2013, but the first nation is now appealing that ruling before the Federal Court of Appeal.
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