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Minister's Statement on Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement

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Minister's Statement on Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement

Today, Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, released the following statement on the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and South Korea:

"The trade deal announced today by the federal government between Canada and South Korea contains positive measures that will open new markets to a variety of industries, particularly the agriculture and food processing sectors, and we welcome these positive measures.

Our government remains very concerned regarding the potential for serious negative impacts this agreement could have on Ontario's auto sector and we have expressed this concern throughout the negotiation process. The province and the auto sector have repeatedly expressed that without sufficient safeguards, this agreement creates an unequal playing field between South Korean and Canadian car manufacturers.

During the negotiations, Ontario called for the longest-possible phase-out period for Canada's tariff on imports of South Korea passenger vehicles. We have concerns that the period accepted by the federal government will not provide our sector with sufficient time needed to adjust to the agreement.

I am also disappointed that the federal government, despite our repeated requests, was unable to secure the same "snap-back provision" that the US negotiated through its deal with South Korea. Such a provision would have allowed Canada to re-introduce auto tariffs in the event South Korea imposes unfair non-tariff barriers that make it harder for Canadian autos to compete in the South Korean market.

To protect the hundreds of thousands of families that directly and indirectly depend on auto sector jobs for their livelihoods, the province is calling for the establishment of a task force to monitor the implementation of this agreement. The task force would report back monthly on South Korean automobile imports to Canada, which would enable our government to quickly implement safeguard provisions if necessary. The task force would also report quarterly on South Korea's non-tariff barriers to identify if they are discriminating against Canadian-made autos.

Helping more businesses go global is part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow. The comprehensive plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario's greatest strengths -- its people and strategic partnerships."

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