I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this important debate on the Floor of the House at last. The motion is to specify CETA as an EU treaty for the purposes of the European Communities Act 1972. It is important to recognise that, unfortunate though it may be, the agreement itself cannot be changed at this stage by anything we might say this afternoon.
We want a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement with Canada. We want to boost fair and open trade with our closest allies and neighbours. Of course we do. We share a common language, unique cultural and economic bonds, the same parliamentary model and a common legal tradition, and we count Canada among our closest, oldest and most trusted allies.
In 2016, our exports to Canada amounted to some £8.3 billion—our seventh-largest non-European export market. In turn, we are Canada’s third most important export market. Our appetite for Canadian goods means that Canada runs a trade surplus with us of some $6.8 billion according to 2017 figures. We are Canada’s most important European trading partner. The vast majority of Canada’s European-bound goods move through our ports. We are the second-biggest recipient of Canadian investment. Similarly, we are the second-biggest foreign direct investor into Canada. More than an estimated 700 British firms have an established presence in Canada and some 1,100 UK firms are owned or controlled by Canadian interests.
In matters of trade, the UK and Canada face similar issues. Boeing’s efforts to have punitive tariff’s levied on Bombardier C Series aircraft threaten thousands of jobs both in Canada and here, where the company’s Northern Ireland plant engineers and manufactures wings for those aircraft. We both face the spurious and illegal tariffs imposed by President Trump on our steel and aluminium exports under the false pretence of national security.
Do we want a trade deal with Canada? Of course we do. Only by working together can we and Canada address and resolve American protectionism and make a concerted effort on the world stage to enforce the rules-based system that underpins international trade. Only by working together can we push for a serious response to global overcapacity issues.