OTTAWA, ON - NDP Industry Critic Brian Masse MP (Windsor West) today reiterated his calls for the government to cease negotiations with South Korea over a Free Trade Agreement. “If pursued, this deal will be disastrous for Canadian industry, particularly for the already embattled auto sector and ship building industry,” stated Mr. Masse.

Under the agreement, import and export tariffs between the two countries would be significantly reduced or abolished, allowing a greater flow of trade between the two countries. However, according to two reports published yesterday by separate bodies, this increased flow would be largely one-way, and both were clear that it would not have a positive impact on the Canadian auto sector.

Industry, unions, and the public have long-awaited the findings of the government report, that acknowledged that the proposed deal will mean a decrease in Canadian production and the loss of Canadian jobs.

In stark contrast, a wider-ranging report published by the CAW forecasts that as many as 33,000 jobs may be lost across the manufacturing sector as a long-term result of the deal, 4,000 of which would be in the already hard-pressed auto manufacturing industry. According to the report, this is due to non-tariff restrictions on foreign firms exporting to South Korea, including strict limitations on marketing by foreign firms.

“Surely the results from these studies provide all the reasons Foreign Trade Minister David Emerson needs to abandon these talks” said Masse. “The interests of Canadian workers and their families must come first, something which Mr. Emerson does not seem to be taking into consideration.”

In a press conference yesterday, Buzz Hargrove, President of the CAW, questioned why a deal was being pursued when even the government’s own statistics show the effect on the Canadian economy to be, at best, neutral, and at a time when the Canadian auto industry is already struggling, with manufacturers including Ford recently announcing production cutbacks and job losses

Mr. Masse, along with his NDP colleagues, will be tabling the 47,000 signature petition collected by the CAW, which call for the ending of talks between the two countries.