Shipowners fear European free trade

by MM&D Online Staff

OTTAWA, Ontario—The members of the Canadian Shipowners Association (CSA) are concerned that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union may hurt Canada’s short sea shipping industry, its workers and suppliers and shippers.

Canadian shipowners have invested in 14 state of the art high-efficiency vessels worth over $700 million, which are positioned to play a part in the prosperity that CETA will bring.  However, “while the CETA deal is good for the Canadian economy,” said CSA president Robert Lewis-Manning “it cannot be allowed to jeopardize the Canadian short sea shipping capacity that the domestic marine industry, labour and the government have collectively developed  to meet Canada’s unique domestic shipping challenges.”

Recent government support through the removal of the 25 percent import duty on foreign-built vessels facilitated CSA member purchase of these vessels with leading edge environmental technologies and safety features.

The CSA is concerned about the lack of transparency in the CETA negotiations and the fact that access to trades between Canadian ports may be given to EU carriers who employ international labour at much lower rates, do not pay Canadian taxes or employ Canadian workers and are not regulated to rigorous Transport Canada safety and operating standards for Canadian flag vessels. Canadian flag short sea shipping vessels are specially designed for Canada’s inland and coastal waters and to meet Canadian requirements.

“Unable to leave Canada and compete against cheaper international competition, the Canadian crewed, Canadian owned and regulated Canadian flagged domestic fleet will be hurt if Canadian cabotage rules are reduced to allow any international vessels access to Canadian markets. Our mariners possess unique local knowledge that ensures that Canadian waters are safely transited, respected and protected,” said Lewis-Manning.  “We need to ensure that these jobs remain in Canada.”

The CSA expressed these views before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade in February 2014.

The CSA membership operates Canadian-flagged and uniquely designed ships on Canadian coastal, Arctic and inland waters, with highly skilled Canadian crew and is part of a $35B continental GLSLW marine transportation system creating 227,000 well-paid jobs.  Marine transportation is the cleanest, most sustainable form of transportation.