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Essex MP talks trade with the EC BIA



by Sylene Argent

The Essex Centre BIA invited Essex MP Tracey Ramsey to be the special guest speaker at an informational event about trade on the evening of Tuesday, October 9. The event took place at the Essex Centre Sports Complex, inside the Shaheen Community Room.

With a lot of trade talk at the highest level of government lately, the Essex Centre BIA Board wanted to touch-base with Ramsey to hear the latest news and determine how changes, or possible changes, could affect small businesses and, further, downtown areas, either directly or indirectly.

Recently, Ramsey said, a deal was secured regarding trade. It is no longer called NAFTA, but the USMCA (the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement). She said it is difficult to find the gains in the agreement for Canada.

Ottawa, she said, was able to secure an exemption from the 25 percent auto tariff. In exchange for that, a quota was put on the amount the vehicles could be sold into the US. In 1999, the best sale year, Canada sold 2.2 million to the US, the cap is set at 2.6 million. She hopes that will still attract investment and not be subject to that 25 percent auto tariff.

The tool and die industry is suffering. She said the region just went through the summer of uncertainty. After the 2008 recession, the industry diversified, and is now getting slammed with tariffs. According to Ramsey, the NPD was pretty hard on the Liberals for not getting rid of the steel and aluminum tariffs before leaving the bargaining table.

Canada is challenging the tariffs through the World Trade Organization, she said. The problem is, she added, is that the process will be slow.

The full text of this agreement will not be available until December 1. She said many are analyzing the text in the agreement.

Another issue is with the dairy industry. “I really feel heartbroken for dairy families because every single trade agreement, we are giving up. So, the comprehensive agreement with the European Union, we gave up. The TPP, which is going through right now, we gave up,” she said, adding, this sector is being sacrificed in this agreement as well.  When you open up a percent of the market, you are not protecting it. It is death by 1000 cuts, she said.

Ramsey also spoke about her concerns with intellectual property provision in association with the USMCA agreement. This extends patens on drugs that are considered biologics, which she said are expensive and affective.

She also spoke of the de minimis threshold, which could affect small businesses directly. This deals with duty fees when purchasing online from the US. She said in Canada, if an individual is ordering off a US website, $20 was the minimum purchase for duty free. Everything after that would be subject to a duty. That has been increased to $150.

“So, it not a massive increase, but it will affect our retail sector,” she said.

One positive of the agreement, Ramsey said, is that there is a side-letter that provides for no bulk exports of water.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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