Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Trade Agreements

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the discussions he has had to date with the EU Trade Commissioner de Gucht in relation to the EU/Canadian trade negotiations; if he has outlined the need to protect the European beef market in view of the importance of the beef sector to the economy here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57703/12]

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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A free trade agreement between the EU and Canada will bring about important economic benefits for both economies and will create additional export opportunities for our entrepreneurs and those doing business with Canada.

Canada is a priority market for Enterprise Ireland’s (EI) exporting clients and the agency provides an extensive range of supports to help them win more business there. To promote Irish exporters’ drive into the Canadian market and to further develop its potential for our entrepreneurs, I led an important EI trade mission there in early November. During that mission I met with the Canadian Finance Minister, Mr. Jim Flaherty, and raised with him the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement including its possible impact on the agriculture sector.

Last year Canada bought €1.742 billion from us in goods and services (€1.1 billion in services and €627 million in goods). It is notable that last year our services exports to Canada increased a significant 88%. Already in the first 10 months of the year our merchandise exports to Canada are up by a very significant 24% to €639 million. Last year total trade between Canada and Ireland was €2.2 billion. This clearly shows the importance of trade with Canada to the Irish economy.

Consequently, a trade agreement with Canada will boost trade with one of our closest trading partners and with an economy with whom we also have very close historic and personal connections. Furthermore, a new generation trade agreement with Canada will help stimulate Ireland’s trade potential across the Atlantic and into the United States, with positive impacts on employment and economic growth across the economy.

Throughout the negotiations I have consistently emphasised to the EU Commission Ireland’s primary objectives in any trade agreement with Canada. These include both offers and requests to Canada in the agriculture sector and especially the beef sector, as well as other important aspects of the talks such as intellectual property, investment, services and public procurement.

I will continue to look for an agreement that is comprehensive and balanced and one that delivers real trade and economic potential for our economy. In this context I recognise the need to minimise the impact of trade liberalisation and market opening on sensitive areas of the economy and will continue to express our concerns that any agreement respects our broad trade interests and especially those of the agriculture sector.

My officials met with the EU Commission as recently as this week to again emphasise the importance of an EU Canada agreement in stimulating growth and our reservations about any possible impact on the agriculture sector.


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