Canadian Auto Workers union
Canada - Korea Free Trade Agreement Bad News for Canada, CAW Tells International Trade Committee Wednesday
14 June 2006
OTTAWA, June 14 /CNW/ - The Canadian Auto Workers union will strongly
oppose the proposed free trade agreement between Canada and South Korea in a
presentation this afternoon to the House of Commons Standing Committee on
"A free trade deal with Korea offers no tangible benefits to Canada, yet
puts some of our most important high-tech industries at risk," says Jim
Stanford, CAW Economist, who will make the presentation on behalf of the
"Our government is putting ideology ahead of the concrete economic
interests of Canadians, by forcing this deal through over the objection of the
auto industry and other key sectors of our economy," Stanford said.
The Canadian auto industry has been unanimous - including North American
assemblers, Toyota, Honda, parts suppliers, the CAW, and other stakeholders -
in condemning the proposed deal, which would allow rapidly-growing Korean
exporters (like Hyundai and Kia) to further expand their sales in Canada, but
with no guarantees of equivalent Canadian sales into Korea.
Stanford will be joined by Chris Buckley, president of CAW Local 222 in
Oshawa, representing 15,000 members in the auto and auto parts industries.
"Our plants in Oshawa have just been recognized, again, as the highest-
quality, highest-productivity assembly facilities on the whole continent,"
said Buckley. "Yet our jobs are still in danger, largely because of a one-way
flow of automotive imports from Asia. Free trade with Korea will make things
The GM Oshawa car assembly plant, whose employees are represented by
Buckley, recently received a gold medal from J.D. Power and Associates as the
highest-quality assembly facility in the Western Hemisphere. The same plant
was also ranked second by Harbour Consulting in its recent ranking of all
North American assembly plants on average productivity. General Motors has
announced it plans to close the plant after the current model expires in 2008,
as the company grapples with excess capacity resulting from lost market share
and surging imports.
Canada presently has approximately a $3 billion trade deficit with South
Korea, which the CAW argues is equivalent to the loss of about 15,000
manufacturing jobs. Based on the experience of other bilateral trade deals
which Canada has negotiated (with countries like Mexico, Chile, Israel, and
Costa Rica), this deficit will get far worse under a free trade agreement. In
automotive products, Canada imports $150 worth of Korean-made automotive
products for every dollar we export to Korea. A complex set of measures
(including exchange rate, taxation, and non-tariff barrier policies) has
restrained imports to Korea, even as Korean exports to Canada and other
markets expand strongly.
The Committee hearing will take place from 3:30 through 5:30 in Room 308
of the West Block, Parliament Hill. The CAW will make its presentation at