Mr. Speaker, tomorrow as we approach Remembrance Day our Kelowna—Lake Country community will come together to join Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26 in Kelowna and Branch 189 in Oyama for this year's annual poppy kickoff campaign.
Under the dedicated leadership of John Broughton, 94 years young Syd Pratt, and their tireless team of volunteers, the poppy campaign will once again raise funds to support veterans and their families. Last year, the Kelowna Legion broke a record, collecting $165,000, a record it hopes to break again this year.
The red poppy is an enduring symbol of collective remembrance, which Canadians wear with great pride. In the days leading up to Remembrance Day, I encourage all of my constituents and all Canadians to help our legions succeed in reaching their poppy drive goals. Let us show our support for our veterans and the dedicated uniformed men and women who serve Canada.
As we have learned so acutely in recent days, freedom comes at a price and it is our sacred duty to remember them. We will remember them.
Mr. Speaker, last week we were standing in this House in unity among all parties. The Prime Minister said that we were in opposition but we were not enemies. We can have a healthy debate and respect the fact that some of us might have an oops moment. I have had them myself. I know that members of the Liberal caucus have had them.
My colleague, the Minister of State for Finance, is a hard-working member. I just wonder if he could clarify this for the House. My understanding is that recently, the member for Wascana was forced to apologize for misleading the House by misquoting support from a Laval economics professor. Then the Liberal finance critic misquoted Jack Mintz, who said that the Liberal EI scheme would encourage employers to fire older workers. Then yesterday, the member for Kings—Hants accidentally tried to cite reputable economist Jack Mintz right after Mr. Mintz had a letter published, entitled “Bad Policy”, about the Liberal plan. I understand that last Friday the leader of the Liberal Party, in a speech, indicated that he was going to hike pension payroll taxes, which would be a concern for my constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country.
I would ask the hon. Minister of State for Finance how the budget implementation bill would help small businesses across Canada and keep payroll taxes low?
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kelowna—Lake Country for his comment, and I would like to ask a question. We in the Liberal Party support free trade. There is sometimes a focus on declaring victory as soon there is the free trade deal, as though that in itself is the end point. It is more complicated than that. In the end, does it turn out to be a good deal for Canada?
Things like trade balances sometimes give us a bit of a clue as to whether it has been successful for Canada. On the issue of the trade balance, sometimes the figures are a bit discouraging. I am not saying that they are all-important. In the end, if we increase our trade, even though we may still have a trade imbalance with the country we are dealing with, that is still a positive thing.
The government talks about all the free trade deals it has negotiated. Has it analyzed whether, in the end, they are turning out to be a good deal for Canada, in terms of the deals that have been negotiated? I certainly hope they are.
Have we negotiated hard enough that this would actually profit Canada as much as we would like it to?
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this important free trade agreement and to share my time with the hard-working member for Don Valley West.
I will start off by reconfirming that there is no government in Canada's history that has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. The Minister of International Trade has been spending many days away from home trying to secure new markets and to deepen Canada's trading relationships in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world. I think it is key to these efforts.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement, Canada's first FTA with an Asia-Pacific nation, is an ambitious, state-of-the-art agreement covering virtually all sectors and aspects of free trade.
Today I will speak specifically to the foundation of the agreement, which is the extensive and profound people-to-people ties that bind Canada and South Korea. I think that is a very important aspect that has not really been talked about.
It is an increasingly interconnected world. People-to-people ties are crucial to ensuring long-term success in the competitive global economy. It is all about relationships, and this free trade agreement is a classic example. It is a landmark achievement that would result in mutual benefits and prosperity for both of our countries and that would lay the foundation to unlock the full potential of our political, economic, and secure relations.
Canada can leverage its rich history and flourishing people-to-people ties with South Korea to build on this free trade agreement and pave the pathway to jobs and prosperity for generations to come.
Canada and South Korea have had formal diplomatic relations for over 50 years, yet the connections between our two peoples extend back more than a century. Prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1963, Canada came to South Korea's aid in the Korean War, contributing the third-largest contingent of troops to UN forces. More than 26,000 Canadian soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder with their Korean brothers and sisters against the spread of tyranny. Unfortunately, more than 500 individuals ultimately gave their lives. George Barr, from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 26 in my riding, and others across Canada, have been incredible ambassadors for the Canada-Korea relationship. The memories of helping folks in Korea and Canada continue to strengthen that bond.
Korean President Park was here last month for her official state visit, and she laid a wreath in memory at the National War Memorial. It was one of the highlights of her visit and was a testament to the importance of the shared history of our two nations.
When I had the honour of travelling with the Prime Minister and the delegation in March for the initial signing of the agreement in Seoul, the Prime Minister and the delegation laid a wreath at the Seoul National Cemetery, as well.
I would like to take a moment to think about Corporal Cirillo. His funeral procession is taking place in Hamilton right now. I am thinking about soldiers, the men and women who sacrifice their lives, and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families as well.
After the Korean War, almost 7,000 additional Canadian soldiers served as peacekeepers in South Korea between 1953 and 1957. Canada also participated in supervising South Korea's first elections in 1948 as part of the United Nations temporary commission on Korea. Aside from the United States, Canada is the only other state that has permanent military representation, with the United Nations Command, otherwise known as the UNC, in Korea.
Canada continues to participate in the UNC Military Armistice Commission that supervises the armistice. Last year, a delegation of Canadian veterans, led by the current Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse, travelled to South Korea to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice on July 27, 2013.
Building on our proud and shared history, our bilateral relationship is further championed and advanced by our strong, growing, people-to-people ties. Canada is home to some 200,000 people who identify themselves as being of Korean origin. It is the fourth-largest Korean diaspora in the world. Over 23,000 Canadians are currently residing in South Korea, including around 3,200 language teachers.
Last year, our government designated the year 2013 the Year of Korea in Canada. It marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Korea and celebrated the contributions of the Korean diaspora to Canadian society.
The Year of Korea in Canada featured a number of cultural and artistic events. I am sure many members had the opportunity to take them in. There were great festivities across the country that gave Canadians the opportunity to learn more about Korean culture, tradition, and diversity.
The Canada-Korea Interparliamentary Friendship Group is co-chaired by Senator Yonah Martin, Canada's first and only Korean senator, an incredible, hard-working individual. She shares that responsibility with our acting Speaker, the member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, who has held three successful Canada-Korea dialogue series on the Hill, the last of which was held in June this year. It was attended by more than 100 participants.
Senator Martin, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, and the member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock also travelled to Seoul, Korea, in September to meet with senior government officials, Korean national assembly members, and business officials to discuss the wide-ranging benefits of the trade agreement to continue to move this agreement forward.
Some Canadians were a bit disappointed with the NDP at committee recently when members tried to remove what I believe is one of the cornerstones of a modern trade agreement, the investor protection provisions. The Liberals talked about this trade agreement in 2003, but it was our Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade who were actually able to get this over the goal line.
The opposition had taken us virtually out of the game of international trade. It was not a priority for them, and I understand their reasons. However, our government wants to create jobs and open doors and opportunities to put Canadian workers and businesses first. The opposition put us at severe risk of falling behind in the era of global markets, but that has changed in a positive manner. Fortunately for Canadians, our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians.
Last month, during President Park's visit to Canada, our government announced its intent to develop a science, technology, and innovation agreement with South Korea, providing Canada with the opportunity to further strengthen the people-to-people ties and to build a lasting strategic framework with one of the world's most innovative economies and top funders of research and development.
The agreement would provide Canadian stakeholders with opportunities to create new partnerships and enhance business-to-business linkages through a mechanism that would directly support bilateral, industry-led research and development funding projects in strategic areas.
As well, I am proud to say that our education ties are extensive and growing. I am sure members from all parties have constituents who have gone to South Korea. It is Canada's third-largest source of international students. We have had constituents going there to teach, and we have had more than 19,000 young and talented students choose Canada as the destination of choice to pursue their education. Based on the average estimated expenditure by international students in Canada per year, that would translate to Korean students contributing over $500 million to the Canadian economy. Many high-calibre international students choose to stay in Canada post-graduation, leading to the enrichment of human capital in Canada. Those who go back to Korea are some of Canada's best ambassadors.
There are over 100 active agreements among institutions in Canada and South Korea facilitating the exchange of students, faculty, staff, and curricula and providing joint research and degree programs. That is very important. The Government of Canada has a number of memoranda of understanding with South Korea, including in the areas of industrial science, engineering and technology, research, co-operation, clean technologies, energy, and Arctic research and development.
On tourism, over 140,000 Korean tourists visited Canada in 2013. It is the eighth-largest source of tourists to Canada, which is very important to my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country. They spent almost $250 million in the Canadian economy. South Korea is one of the Canadian Tourism Commission's top-ten priority leisure markets. In 2013, the annual growth in the number of Korean tourists to Canada stood at 3.3%. An estimated four million Korean travellers are actively considering a Canadian holiday in the next two years.
On September 22, the Prime Minister and Korean President Park witnessed the signing of an open-skies air transport agreement between Canada and Korea, another significant milestone moving forward.
Ultimately our goal is to create jobs and growth for the benefit of Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. That is why we will continue to deliver pro-export leadership.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to be sharing my time with the member for Kelowna—Lake Country.
It is my pleasure to reiterate the importance of Canada's free trade agreement with Korea. No government in Canada's history has been more committed to the creation of jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. Deepening Canada's trading relationships in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world is key to these efforts. Our government understands the importance of trade to our economy. It represents one out of every five jobs in Canada and accounts for more than 60% of our country's annual income.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is an ambitious state-of-the-art agreement covering virtually all sectors and aspects of trade between Canada and Korea. It would also be Canada's first free trade agreement with an Asian market.
When President Park of the Republic of Korea visited Canada in September, she and the Prime Minister also announced their intention to develop an agreement on science, technology, and innovation co-operation between our two countries. I would like to focus my remarks on this important development in the Canada-Korea relationship.
Canada is globally renowned for its strength in innovation, its R and D capacity, and its highly trained workforce. Research and development is crucial for Canada's success as a trading nation. It plays a key role in shaping the economy and creating the jobs of the future. It creates new goods and services that improve the standard of living for Canadians and for communities around the world.
The Canadian science, technology, and innovation landscape is rich and diverse. Our Conservative government understands the importance of science, technology, and innovation in addressing key societal challenges. Indeed, all Canadians know our future growth and place in the world will increasingly be driven by our ability to innovate.
Let me provide some insights into how innovation is linked to economic development. The Science, Technology and Innovation Council of Canada describes science and technology, and specifically research and development, as involving the “creation of new knowledge”. Innovation requires that knowledge or technology introduced into the marketplace or into an organization creates value. Being able to translate ideas from the lab to the marketplace is extremely important for Canada.
To remain successful in the highly competitive global economy, Canada must continue to improve its approach for developing high-quality, talented people performing world-leading research and generating new breakthrough ideas. Our government recognizes that protectionist restrictions stifle our exporters and undermine Canada's competitiveness, which in turn adversely affects middle-class Canadian families. International collaboration in science, technology, and innovation is increasingly important to our ability to stay at the leading edge.
Canada generates about 4.1% of global knowledge, despite accounting for just 0.5% of the world's population. That is courtesy of the Council of Canadian Academies, The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012. Clearly, we are punching above our weight, and our linkages with international innovation leaders are crucial to maintaining our advantage.
Korea is an ideal partner for Canada in science, technology, and innovation co-operation. Strengthening relations with Korea through a formal agreement would allow Canada to build a lasting strategic framework with one of the world's most innovative economies. Korea is not only a top funder of research and development projects, but an expert in introducing new technologies into the marketplace. These are the types of partners Canada needs to advance our expertise in innovation.
In addition to supporting the relationship between the two countries, a science, technology, and innovation agreement would complement the Canada-Korea free trade agreement by enhancing opportunities for Canadian industry to gain access to cutting-edge research networks and technology in Korea.
A preliminary analysis suggests that the most promising sectors for co-operation align with those that would be supported by Canada's free trade agreement with Korea, namely aerospace; automotive; energy, including sustainable technologies; advanced manufacturing; health and life sciences, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices; and information communication technology, or ICTs.
If the House will permit me, I would like to discuss the benefits that would accrue to Canadians from strengthening the Canada-Korea science, technology, and innovation relationship.
A science, technology, and innovation or STI agreement would be supported by robust CKFTA outcomes in the areas of services, investment, temporary entry, and intellectual property.
The services and investment provisions would provide Canadian suppliers of professional services such as R and D with greater and more predictable access to the Korean market and would encourage additional investment in the science, technology, and innovation sectors.
Temporary entry provisions would provide new preferential access to the Korean market, facilitating movement between Canada and South Korea for business visitors.
The free trade agreement's commitment to strong intellectual property rights and rules for their enforcement would provide Canadians who develop and market innovative and creative products with access to the Korean market. An STI agreement would be an effective tool to assist Canadian companies to increase exports of value-added industrial and advanced manufacturing products, making Korea an attractive market not only for our traditional energy and agricultural exports but also for science, technology, and innovation exports. An STI agreement would also benefit Canada by facilitating increased access for Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, as well as research institutes and universities to Korea's innovative ecosystem and global value chains. Canada's R and D largely depends on our universities. Korea relies much more on industry. The Korean R and D approach can help Canada commercialize research and scale products.
Finally, an STI agreement with Korea would strengthen people-to-people ties by providing a forum for government, researchers, industry, and key Canadian stakeholders to develop opportunities to collaborate and leverage the latest R and D and technological advancements in strategic sectors. It would increase knowledge of innovation systems by providing a forum for both countries to learn about respective STI policies, programs, and government funding structures, providing further insights into innovation, growth, and export strategies.
We stand with Canadians, incredibly disappointed that New Democrats tried to completely gut the bill at the trade committee, where they tabled amendments to remove the investor protection provisions, which are the cornerstones of modern trade and investment agreements. This is just as harmful as the neglect of international trade under the Liberals, who took Canada virtually out of the game of trade negotiations and put Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in this era of global markets.
Fortunately, our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians. Thanks to the actions under our government's free trade leadership, Canadian workers, businesses, and exporters now have preferred access and a real competitive edge in more markets around the world than at any other time in our history.
The Canada-Korea free trade agreement is yet another example of how we are getting the job done. This agreement would strengthen our trade and investment ties across the Pacific, increase the prosperity of both our countries, and create jobs and enhanced opportunities for Canadian businesses.
With that, I call for the prompt implementation of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement for the benefit of Canada and all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, our government is proud of our long-standing partnership with Rotary. I want to thank my colleague from Kelowna—Lake Country for his hard work as a Rotarian.
We know that Canada's Rotarians are working with our government to make it possible for more children to go to school, for small businesses to obtain funding and for communities to build water system infrastructure.
We can all learn from Rotarians' will to help the less fortunate. Our government is proud to partner with an organization that is recognized for engaging Canadians and its service to others, whether at home or abroad.
Mr. Speaker, it is as real pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.
Before beginning my comments, I would like to thank my colleague from Kelowna—Lake Country not just for his support for this particular agreement but also for his work on trade and on behalf of Canadian exporters during his tenure on the trade committee.
This free trade agreement is an ambitious state-of-the-art agreement covering virtually all sectors and aspects of Canadian-Korean trade, including trade in goods and services, investments, government procurement, intellectual property, labour, and environmental co-operation.
This free trade agreement, Canada's first with an Asian country, is yet more proof that our government is focused on creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians in every region of the country.
I would particularly like to focus on benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement to Canada's fish and seafood industry. Surrounded by the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans and home to the Great Lakes, Canada has one of the most valuable fishing industries in the world.
In 2012 alone, the fish and seafood industry contributed more than $2.2 billion to Canada's GDP and provided some 41,000 jobs for hard-working Canadians. It is also the economic mainstay of approximately 1,500 communities in rural and coastal Canada.
Canada exports most of its fish and seafood. It is the world's seventh-largest exporter of fish and seafood products, exporting an estimated 73% by value of our fish and seafood production.
Asia is an important market for Canadian fish and seafood products, and with this dynamic market, it is rapidly growing in importance in global trade.
Canada has a proven ability to export to Asian markets, including South Korea. Between 2011 and 2013, Canada exported an average of $49 million in fish and seafood products to South Korea. However, there is still much room to grow in this vibrant Asian market, and Canada must act now.
I must say that during this debate I was able to listen to the words of the MP for Winnipeg North, although he mainly concentrated on volume and was a little light on facts. I have heard in this House that all of the parties intend to support this trade agreement and I thank the opposition parties for that.
However, let us be clear on the Liberal record on trade: in the 13 years they were in government, they signed three agreements. We have been in government for eight years and we have signed 43 agreements. There is no comparison.
Times were good when the Liberals were in government. The dollar was low and exports were high. It was not anything they did that caused that; rather, it was the free trade agreement signed by Brian Mulroney's government that caused that increase in dollars in the country. However, the danger of doing nothing in the good times was that when the recession hit in 2008-2009, we were left in a virtual trade deficit. We had to work extremely hard to find markets for our exports, and Canada is an exporting nation.
We took the risk of falling behind. We have not fallen behind. We have actually caught up; now we are moving forward again, and times are getting better.
Canadians well remember that the last time the Liberals tried to talk seriously about trade, they campaigned to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement. I was happy to see that once they got into government, they forgot their campaign promise, and Canada was actually able to move ahead on that.
Once fully implemented, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would eliminate South Korea's tariffs on all fish and seafood products. South Korea's tariffs in this sector, which include fresh, frozen, and processed fish and seafood, run as high as 47%. With the elimination of tariffs, Canadian products would become more competitive, allowing Canadian firms to increase exports in this dynamic market. As we know, exporters from the U.S. and the EU are already benefiting from preferential access to the South Korean market.
Some of the products that would benefit from immediate tariff elimination include frozen lobster and Pacific and Atlantic salmon, whether fresh, chilled, frozen, or smoked. They currently have duties of up to 20%.
In all, 70% of fish and seafood tariff lines will be duty free within five years of the agreement's entering into force. All remaining duties in this very sensitive Korean sector will be entirely eliminated within 12 years.
The outcome for Canada's top fish and seafood export interests is on par with or better than those agreements obtained by the U.S. and EU. Compared to the U.S., for example, Canada obtained stronger results for fish and seafood for roughly half of Canada's key exports, including lobster, hagfish, and halibut. By year five, Canada will have duty-free access for more fish and seafood products than either the EU or the U.S. will have at their five-year mark under their respective FTAs with Korea.
The benefits do not end there. In addition to tariff elimination, this agreement contains robust provisions that will ensure that Canadian fish and seafood exports are not undermined by unjustified trade barriers. The chapter on sanitary and phytosanitary measures negotiated with Korea is a good example. In this chapter, Canada and Korea have agreed to build on their shared commitments under the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. The chapter fully recognizes the rights of the WTO members to take the sanitary and phytosanitary measures necessary for the protection of human, animal, or plant health, as long as they are based on science and are not used as disguised measures to unnecessarily restrict trade. Far too often we see phytosanitary measures becoming non-tariff trade barriers. The agreement we have signed with Korea should prevent that from happening. It also establishes a committee of experts who can collaborate and consult on phytosanitary issues to enhance bilateral co-operation. The committee will provide a forum in which issues can be discussed and resolved before they become major problems.
At this time, I would like to take a moment to elaborate on the benefits pertaining to lobster. Lobster is an iconic Canadian crustacean, Canada's top and most valuable export in the fish and seafood sector. It is certainly an important product in my part of the world, in southwestern Nova Scotia. The south shore, along with West Nova, are the main lobster exporters in Canada. In 2013, Atlantic Canada's exports of lobster were worth $888 million and accounted for 95% of all Canadian lobster exports. Canada's exports of lobster to South Korea were worth an average of $18.2 million annually between 2011 and 2013. Again, we accounted for nearly 37% of Canada's total seafood exports to South Korea.
Current duties of up to 20% on lobster products faced by Canadian exporters will be totally eliminated. This summer we got a taste of what increased lobster trade with South Korea will look like. Korean Air Cargo launched weekly service to South Korea from Halifax to transport an expected minimum of 40,000 kilograms of live lobster. This happened only a few months after the announcement of the conclusion of negotiations on this agreement. This is the type of opportunity that can be generated across this country from coast to coast to coast.
Given the many benefits of the agreement, the stakeholders from the fish and seafood industry have shown great support for the Canada–Korea free trade agreement.
I will quote the Lobster Council of Canada, which supports the agreement:
...it will greatly enhance our industry's competitiveness in South Korea. Tariff elimination and improved market access for lobster exports helps to ensure long-term prosperity of our industry and the thousands of people it employs in [Nova Scotia].
It is not just about Nova Scotia. We have a huge inland fishery in Canada, worth nearly half a billion dollars, in the Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg, Great Slave Lake, and Great Bear Lake. We have a major fishery in the Arctic Ocean for arctic turbot. We have a fantastic fishery in British Columbia. We are surrounded. We have a very viable wild fishery in this country and an aquaculture industry that will now have a marketplace for its products. For B.C. halibut and arctic turbot, we are looking at a reduction in tariffs of 10%. That is a huge difference for these fishermen and plant owners.
This is a great agreement. This is a smart agreement for Canada, and it is a great agreement for fish and seafood.
Mr. Speaker, it is always a privilege and honour to rise in the House. This morning I rise to speak on this historic free trade agreement between Canada and Korea.
I am delighted to be sharing my time with my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue and for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and member for South Shore—St. Margaret's, with whom I have had the opportunity to be on the trade committee for the last eight and a half years. He used to be the parliamentary secretary to the trade committee as well, and so we have a good working relationship. He also has a thorough understanding of the importance of this agreement for not only his constituents but all Canadians.
I want to touch on some of the aspects of this free trade agreement and how it would strengthen our trade and investment ties across the Pacific.
This agreement would increase the prosperity of both countries and result in job creation and enhanced opportunities for Canadian and Korean businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as investors, workers, and consumers.
I do not think members will find any government or any prime minister in Canadian history who better understands the importance of trade to our economy. Trade represents one in five jobs and accounts for approximately 60% of our country's annual income. We also understand that Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investments.
As I said, no government in Canada's history has been more committed to the creation of new jobs and prosperity for Canadian businesses, workers, and their families. Deepening Canada's trading relationships in dynamic and high-growth markets around the world is key to these efforts.
I would also like to thank the opposition parties for their understanding and support of why it is important to ratify this agreement quickly and have it implemented by January 1, 2015.
I worked together with my honourable colleague across the aisle, the member for Vancouver Kingsway and the NDP official trade critic, who stated last week in this House that:
This agreement offers the opportunity for Canadian producers and exporters to increase trade with a modern democratic country with a high-income complementary economy.
He went on to say that:
It will level the playing field for Canadian exporters, who can compete with the best in the world....
Finally, he said:
There is no doubt that Korea is both a significant and a strategic economic partner for Canada.
I could not agree more, and in that regard I would like to highlight the key elements of our trade strategy for Asia and South Korea.
The economic potential of Asia is immense, with a constantly evolving political transformation and a monumental demographic shift. Asia is important to Canada because it offers new opportunities to expand Canada's economic prosperity.
The importance of this agreement is that it would be the gateway to the Asia-Pacific, which has a population of 50 million-plus. This agreement would open the doors. That is why our government has taken such a rigorous and strategic approach to trade with Asia.
My hon. colleague, the Minister of International Trade, has travelled numerous times to various parts of Asia, including the conclusion of this agreement with South Korea and the pursuit of agreements with India and Japan. He will be leading a delegation to India next month. These agreements would lead to increased trade and investment, enhancing Canadian prosperity for generations to come.
Investment is a key driving force for economic growth and competitiveness in Canada. Canadian companies that invest overseas can expand their client base significantly and bring capital back into Canada, which can create jobs. Foreign companies that invest in Canada create jobs as well, boost our economy, and contribute to economic growth that benefits all Canadians.
While Canada and South Korea enjoy a strong investment relationship, ample scope remains for further growth in both directions.
South Korea's direct investments into Canada have risen from $397 million in 2005 up to $4.9 billion by the end of 2013. South Korea is the twelfth-largest investor country in Canada and the fourth from Asia.
South Korea is one of the world's great science and technology powerhouses. I am very interested in innovation and technology, and I had a chance to visit Taiwan a couple of times, as well as Korea, earlier this year.
South Korea has one of the highest expenditures on research and development, R & D, as a share of GDP among OECD countries, spending 4% of GDP. While most private sector R & D takes place domestically, South Korean companies have begun investing in research centres overseas, including Samsung in my home province of British Columbia. Others are becoming more active in utilizing overseas R & D staff and resources.
With this agreement's investment-related provisions and Canada's world-leading, cost-effective R & D environment, Canada would become an even more attractive destination for South Korean R & D investment.
Other examples of South Korean companies' continued interest in Canada are not hard to find. KOGAS, South Korea's national gas company, has already invested heavily in a Canadian LNG project.
My colleague across the way will be interested in knowing that Green Cross, a South Korean biopharmaceutical company, will be opening a new company, a manufacturing facility in Montreal, as it breaks into the North American market. For these companies and many more, Canada is the destination of choice.
Something that is near and dear to the constituents in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country and to wine lovers across Canada is also something that is very appealing to the palate of the people of South Korea, and that is our great Canadian icewine.
As I alluded to, I had the opportunity and the honour of travelling with the Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade on March 11 to Seoul, Korea, for the signing of the free trade agreement with President Park. It was an historic moment and an incredible experience. At Blue House, President Park's house, we were able to enjoy a toast of Canadian icewine, which was the icing on the cake.
A champion of the Canadian wine institute is the president, hard-working Dan Paszkowski, who indicated:
The Canadian wine industry is pleased to support the Government of Canada in its work to finalize negotiations for the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement. South Korea is an important market for Canadian wine producers, as evidenced by the significant growth in the value of Canadian icewine exports, which increased nearly 25 percent between 2012 and 2013. With a successful FTA, the Canadian wine industry anticipates even stronger export growth in the coming years.
I recently spoke with Dan, who said that about 95% of the market right now is the export of icewine to South Korea, but there is a huge potential for other products once the South Korean community starts to taste our product. Something of interest is that the highest price point for red wine is South Korea. These are great things to raise our glasses and cheer about in the future with this agreement.
In other investments abroad, Canadian direct investment in South Korea has fluctuated over the years. We have seen an upward trend in recent years. Specifically, at the end of 2013, Canadian investment stock in South Korea was at $534 million, up from $390 million in 2012.
Canadian companies continue to show increased interest in investing in South Korea. Major Canadian companies such as Magna International, Bombardier—whose facility in South Korea and we had an opportunity to tour with the Prime Minister—and Pharmascience have already invested in South Korea, and more investments and partnerships are on the horizon. Just this past May, the clothing brand Joe Fresh announced it would open its first store outside of North America in Seoul, with plans to open nine more retail outlets in the South Korean capital by the end of the year.
This agreement will level the playing field for Canadian companies in the South Korean market, which we all agree is important. Canadian businesses can compete with the world when they are on a level playing field.
The agreement sets out transparent and predictable rules, something also very important for businesses. They want stability, predictability, and transparency.
The agreement will ensure that Canadian businesses in South Korea will be treated no less favourably than South Korean businesses. It will protect Canadian businesses from discriminatory treatment and provides access to an independent international investor state dispute settlement mechanism. The same rules will apply to South Koreans investing in Canada, further increasing the attractiveness of Canada as an investment destination. I do not think anybody would disagree with each country being treated the same way, respectfully and with the same rules. These rules have been a standard feature of Canada's comprehensive free trade agreements since NAFTA and have been shown time and time again to be in our national interest.
For Canadian companies that invest abroad, there is no substitute for being on site where their clients are. Canadian companies that invest in South Korea will now find it easier to have their professionals on site in South Korea. The agreement will provide new preferential access for professionals from both Canada and South Korea and will facilitate greater transparency and predictability for the movement of businesspersons between the two countries.
Our Conservative government is committed to protecting and strengthening the long-term financial security of hard-working Canadians. Thanks to these actions under our government's free trade leadership, Canadian workers, businesses, and exporters now have preferred access and a real competitive edge in more markets around the world than at any other time in our history.
The global market is shifting. More companies are looking to Asia for growth. The South Korean market provides a landmark opportunity for growth in neighbouring markets in Asia, Japan, and China. This agreement will provide fair access to the whole South Korean market and ensure continued growth for Canada.
Trade has long been a powerful engine for Canada's economy, and it is even more so in what remain challenging times for the global economy. By continuing to actively pursue broader market access and new investment opportunities, we are providing Canadian businesses and exporters with access on preferred terms to the largest, most dynamic, and fastest-growing regions around the world.
I would ask for a quick ratification of this agreement by all parties.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to congratulate Miss Freya Kellet, a scholar from Okanagan Mission Secondary School in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, who this week in Ottawa was awarded a national TD scholarship for community leadership.
TD scholarships for community leadership are awarded to students in their final year of high school who demonstrate consistent and outstanding dedication to making their communities a better place.
Freya's passion for food security and environmental issues, raising awareness about cyberbullying and social media, along with her commitment to volunteerism and to helping disabled children, all helped to not only make our community a better place but also motivated others to get involved.
Freya is an inspiration. We wish her all the best of success as she pursues her educational goals in corporate social responsibility and international development law. She has made her family and friends very proud and is no doubt destined to be a true leader. Our congratulations to Freya. We wish her all the best in her future.
Mr. Speaker, beginning in April 2014, in St. John's, Newfoundland, Ralph Morrison, of Kelowna, British Columbia, began a cross-Canada road trip to raise awareness of the effects of bullying. It is my pleasure to welcome him to Parliament Hill today.
At the age of 52, through his book, The Fear Inside, Ralph found the courage to tell his story about bullying and how he overcame his fear to speak out. As he journeys across the country, Ralph is reaching out to communities, boys and girls clubs, and especially troubled teens in the hope that his experience will help those who suffer in silence to find the courage to speak out and begin to heal.
On behalf of the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country, I want to wish Ralph Morrison safe travels as he continues his journey to his destination of Victoria, British Columbia. We thank Ralph for his courage, for reaching out to young people to encourage them to stand up and to speak out against bullying, and for sharing the message that the fear inside can be healed.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to welcome the B.C. Wildlife Federation to the great city of Kelowna this week as it holds its 58th annual general meeting and convention.
The federation is British Columbia's largest and oldest province-wide, volunteer-driven conservation organization. Its mission is to protect, enhance, and promote the responsible use of the environment and to build a legacy of conservation for generations to come.
As this is National Volunteer Week, I would like to acknowledge my constituent, Bill Bosch, the hard-working president of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, and his team and all the volunteers who support our local organizations and improve the quality of life in Kelowna—Lake Country.
As a member of the Rotary Club of Kelowna Sunrise, I have also seen the positive difference volunteers make throughout the world by supporting global projects such as helping to eradicate polio, in partnership with the Government of Canada.
Volunteerism is a tangible example of the power of action over words, and Canadians continue to be the beneficiaries of those efforts.
The electoral district of Kelowna--Lake Country (British Columbia) has a population of 122,214 with 97,351 registered voters and 259 polling divisions.
This action requires you to be logged into Politwitter. No regisrtation is required, just authenticate using your Twitter account.