Canada’s minister of economic development wasted no time in mining for overseas automotive investment, less than a week after a new free trade deal between Canada the European Union went into effect.
Minister Navdeep Bains spent Sept. 25 and 26 meeting with Magna International and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials in Italy, just days after the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) went into effect Sept. 21.
“The automotive sector is important to me, and it’s all about making sure we continue to seek investment opportunities, to secure our footprint in the automotive sector and have good qualities jobs in Canada,” Bains told Automotive News Canada from Turin, Italy, where he was also attending a G7 meeting.
Bains said he met with Magna and FCA “in light of CETA” and was focussed on engineering and design jobs.
Bains said Magna was “demonstrating how investments on either side of the [ocean] are creating jobs.”
Bains said he also talked with Marchionne about reducing vehicle emissions and advancing a green economy.
Magna and FCA did not immediately comment on Bains’ visit.
Under CETA, tariffs will be immediately eliminated on all Canadian auto parts imported to the European Union. Tariffs on Canada-made vehicles will be phased out over the next seven years. The deal will also allow Canada to export up to 100,000 vehicles annually to the EU under more liberal rules of origin.
The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, which represents General Motors, Ford and FCA in Canada, praised the deal the moment it went into effect.
"The CETA represents an excellent opportunity for our member companies to increase exports to the European market," CVMA President Mark Nantais said in a statement. "Trade agreement outcomes that are supportive of Canada's automotive manufacturing sector and its integrated supply chain benefit Canada's overall economy.”
Under CETA, Canadian automotive companies will also benefit from improved labour mobility provisions, meaning those companies can have their employees move more freely between the regions.
Bains said he’s also hearing from companies interested in not just the mobility benefits of CETA but also Canada’s open immigration laws.
“Make no mistake, diversity is our strength. It’s part of our value proposition. Canada is focused on developing strong Canadian talent and we’re also open to global talent through immigration,” Bains said. “While other jurisdictions are focused on building walls, we are genuinely focused on opening doors.
“This message is being really well received by companies that want to invest in Canada.They recognize the importance of having a talented workforce."