Canada.com is reporting in an article entitled “Calling for c0mments on Canada-Israel free trade” that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade have asked for comments on the expansion of the existing Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement by December 30, 2011. The Canada-Israel FTA is one of Canada’s shortest free trade agreements – so there is room for improvement.
This is a great opportunity for Canadian businesses who have business dealings (inbound or outbound) with Israel to “ask” the Government of Canada to improve the business environment. The negotiators cannot know what Canadian businesses need without receiving the information.
The announcement states:
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE
CONSULTATIONS ON NEGOTIATIONS TO EXPAND THE EXISTING FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH THE STATE OF ISRAEL
The Government of Canada is seeking the views of Canadians on the scope of potential negotiations for the expansion of the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Canada and the State of Israel (Israel).
This notice is part of the Government of Canada’s domestic consultations process with business, citizen-based organizations and individual Canadians, as well as with provincial and territorial governments, to obtain advice and views on priorities, objectives and concerns to help outline the parameters of the initiative.
Canada and Israel have strong, multidimensional bilateral relations, marked by close political, economic, social and cultural ties. Exploratory discussions to expand the goods-only Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) were announced on October 10, 2010. The Trade Ministers of both countries agreed that officials would examine options to expand the application of the CIFTA to include other areas that typically form a comprehensive free trade agreement (e.g. services, investment, government procurement).
The CIFTA entered into force on January 1, 1997, eliminating tariffs on all industrial products manufactured in Canada and Israel as well as a limited number of agricultural and fisheries products. Between 1999 and 2003, Canada and Israel successfully negotiated additional tariff preferences on agricultural, agri-food and fish goods, that were excluded from the Agreement, as well as further improvements to existing preferential duties applied to certain agricultural goods whose tariffs were only reduced in the original agreement. This included preferences for some of Canada’s top agricultural and agri-food exports to Israel.
Bilateral merchandise trade has more than doubled since the CIFTA came into force from $507.3 million in 1996, to $1.4 billion in 2010, representing an increase of 177.0% over the last 14 years. Canadian merchandise exports to Israel were valued at $399.3 million in 2010. Leading exports include precious stones, paper and newsprint, machinery, electrical and electronic machinery, salt, sulfur, earths and stones. Canada’s merchandise imports from Israel were valued at over $1.0 billion in 2010. Leading imports include pharmaceutical products, electrical and electronic machinery, precious stones, scientific and precision instruments and machinery.
Canadian services exports to Israel totalled $179 million in 2008, the largest portion of which was in travel services followed closely by transportation and government services. Canadian services imports from Israel totalled $321 million in 2008, the largest portion of which was in transportation and government services.
Statistics Canada data for stocks of Canadian Direct Investment in Israel are not available. Israeli Foreign Direct Investment in Canada amounted to over $1.0 billion in 2010.
In addition to Canada, Israel also has free trade agreements with The United States, Mexico, European Union, European Free Trade Association, Egypt, Jordan and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).
Submissions by interested parties
This public consultation process allows interested stakeholders an early opportunity to provide comments and advice on the scope of the negotiations to expand the CIFTA. It is essential that the Government of Canada be fully aware of the interests and potential sensitivities of Canadians with respect to this initiative. We welcome advice and views on any priorities, objectives and concerns relating to the expansion of this existing free trade agreement with Israel. In particular, we are seeking views with respect to the following:
- Views and opinions on the expansion of trade in agricultural and fish goods, specifically on further liberalization of Canadian exports to Israel and access for products from Israel.
- Advice and views on trade in services, particularly the identification of sectors/activities of export interest for Canadian service providers, and opinions on domestic regulatory measures that restrict or otherwise affect market access for Canadian service providers.
- Advice, views and experiences regarding the temporary entry of business persons from Canada into Israel and into Canada from Israel (e.g. impediments to entering or working in Israel on a temporary basis including licensing or certification requirements at the border).
- Advice, views and experiences regarding measures affecting exports destined for Israel including non-tariff barriers (such as import licensing), technical barriers to trade (including technical regulations, standards and/or conformity assessment procedures) and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
- Views on general rules of origin and on appropriate rules of origin for specific products or sectors.
- Advice on “trade facilitation” issues (e.g. significant impediments related to import procedures).
- Advice, views and experiences with customs procedures and with commercial goods entering and/or leaving Israel.
- Advice, views and experiences regarding investment barriers faced by Canadian investors in Israel, including restrictions imposed on foreign ownership or entry to market, questions of transparency of regulation, performance requirements (i.e. local content requirements, use of local labour and services), and any other impediments/barriers.
- Advice and views on priority government procurement markets for Canadian suppliers in Israel, including the government entities or enterprises of interest to Canadian suppliers and the goods, services or construction services that Canadian suppliers are interested in selling to those government organizations.
- Advice, views and experiences regarding barriers (e.g. availability and transparency of information, domestic preferences) when selling or attempting to sell to governments in Israel.
- Advice, views and experiences regarding the protection of intellectual property rights.
- Advice and views on competition policy matters, including development of possible cooperation mechanisms.
- Views on ways to reflect the interests and values of Canadians in the area of sustainable development, environmental protection and conservation including experiences regarding these matters as they relate to Israel.
- Views on ways to reflect the interests and values of Canadians in the areas of workers’ rights, human rights, transparency in business and commercial practices and other social concerns, as they relate to Israel.
- Advice and views on ways to enhance the bilateral economic relationship, such as cooperation on science and technology, innovation and two-way investment.
- Advice and experiences regarding trade remedies (i.e. anti-dumping and countervailing measures) taken on trade between Israel and Canada.
- Views on other related issues not mentioned above.
Submissions for public consultations
All interested parties are invited to submit their views by Friday, December 30, 2011. Please be advised that any information received as a result of this consultation will be considered as public information, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Submissions should include
- the contributor’s name and address, and, if applicable, his/ her organization, institution or business;
- the specific issues being addressed; and
- precise information on the rationale for the positions taken, including any significant impact it may have on Canada’s domestic or foreign interests.
Contributions can be sent by email to consultations@ international.gc.ca, by fax to 613-944-3214 or by mail to Trade Negotiations Consultations (Israel), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Trade Policy and Negotiations Division I (TPE), Lester B. Pearson Building, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2.