Union point of View
Canada-China Trade Deal Would Decimate Canadian Workers, Industries
Canadian workers and key industries will be hard-hit if the Liberal government forges ahead with a trade agreement with China, the United Steelworkers (USW) warns.
"The government's claim of setting a 'progressive' trade agenda whitewashes the potentially devastating impact of the Canada-China trade deal it is pursuing," says USW National Director Ken Neumann.
"It is not currently in Canada's interest to pursue a free trade agreement with China," Neumann states in the USW's submission to Global Affairs Canada as part of public consultations on a Canada-China trade deal.
"The USW asserts that negotiating a trade agreement with China would inevitably require that Canada compromise Canada's national interest or its values, or both. We believe that it is Canada's workers who will suffer most as a result," Neumann says.
"China has consistently shown itself to be a violator of global trade rules and norms," including illegal dumping of unfairly subsidized steel and other products that have harmed Canadian workers and communities.
"Opening Canadian steel markets further to China's state-led exporters will only further decimate what is left of the Canadian steel sector as well as other important industries, including aluminum, paper, glass and auto parts," Neumann says.
"We share many Canadians' concerns about China's abuses of human rights and labour rights, environmental degradation caused by Chinese industries and weak rule of law. China's state-driven development model is motivated as much by China's political ambitions as it is by profit and it has not played by the rules where trade is concerned," he adds.
"Furthering economic integration with China will weaken Canada's ability to make independent political decisions in relation to Chinese human rights issues if Canadian politicians and policy makers are reticent to risk harming trade and economic relations with China."
Before proceeding with any new trade negotiations, the Liberal government must "clearly detail the specific components, principles and provisions which make up what it has called its 'progressive trade agenda,' " Neumann says.
"We urge the government to conduct a balanced, honest and comprehensive feasibility study which includes not just growth estimates, but also sectoral and distributional projections as well as human rights, labour and environmental impact assessments," he says.
"In that way, Canadians will be able to participate more fully in the policy process and our trading partners may have a clear understanding of where Canadians really stand on these important policy issues."