South Korea trade deal could hurt auto industry, Ontario warns
Prime Minister Stephen Harper failed to ensure “sufficient safeguards” to protect the domestic auto industry in his much-ballyhooed trade deal with Korea, warns Ontario’s trade minister.
While the province welcomes liberalized trading, concerns linger that Harper did not do enough to protect the key automotive sector, said Eric Hoskins, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment Eric Hoskins.
To bolster the historic accord, the Ontario government wants a “task force to monitor the implementation of this agreement” over the next year or so.
“The trade deal announced . . . 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,” Hoskins said in a statement released Tuesday.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Hoskins complained Harper did not ensure “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,” the minister said.
“I am . . . disappointed that the federal government, despite our repeated requests, was unable to secure the same ‘snapback provision’ that the U.S. negotiated through its deal with South Korea,” said Hoskins.
“Such a provision would have allowed Canada to reintroduce 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.”
With some 93,000 direct auto jobs and five times as many ancillary posts at stake, Queen’s Park wants a panel of provincial, federal, and auto industry officials to monitor how the Korea pact is being implemented. (Continued: Toronto Star)