MOOSE JAW, June 1, 2001 -- Premiers noted that the vitality and growth of the western Canadian economy depends in large part on secure and enhanced access to international markets. They noted that for many sectors of the western economy, such as agriculture and resource products and related services, and manufactured goods and related services, access to international markets is key.
On the agriculture negotiations currently underway in the World Trade Organization (WTO), Premiers agreed that a successful outcome is critical to the long-term success of western Canadian agriculture and food producers. They therefore called on the federal government to aggressively pursue a level playing field for western producers in international markets through the significant reduction in trade barriers, trade distorting domestic support and export subsidies.
Premiers noted the large and growing gap in support for producers between Canada and its main competitors, the US and the EU, and therefore renewed their call for the federal government to immediately provide an additional $500 million in support to address the current farm income crisis.
Western Premiers noted that commercial service sectors in their jurisdictions would benefit from greater liberalization of trade in services internationally. However, the ongoing WTO services negotiations must not infringe on their governments' flexibility to provide and manage key social services in the public interest, including income security or insurance, social security or insurance, social welfare, public education, public training, health and child care. They called on the federal government to continue to honour its longstanding commitment not to accept any international obligations that would inappropriately limit this flexibility.
Premiers discussed the negotiations of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). They agreed that a successful FTAA negotiation could lead to new market opportunities in the Western Hemisphere for western Canadian exports. Premiers again called on the federal government to preserve the policy flexibility of governments to manage public services in the context of the FTAA negotiations. Premiers also expected the federal government to address the unclear elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement investment provisions in the FTAA negotiation process.
Premiers noted the significance of the meeting of WTO trade ministers this fall in Qatar as a means to advance the WTO negotiation agenda in services and agriculture, areas of importance to Western Canada. Premiers look forward to and expect their trade ministers to play a strong role in the Qatar ministerial meeting. Premiers also expect the federal government to ensure provincial representation at future ministerial meetings in the context of the WTO, FTAA and other international trade negotiation forums.
On bilateral relations with the US, Premiers focussed on the current softwood lumber dispute. They reiterated their view that, as the owners of forestry resources, provinces should be fully involved in the development of Canadian positions in the dispute and in any ongoing discussions between Canada and the US on options for a lasting outcome to this long standing dispute. Accordingly, Premiers directed their ministers of forestry and trade to meet together as soon as possible to discuss the coordination of western input into these discussions.
Finally, Premiers discussed the issue of bulk water removals from their jurisdictions. They firmly opposed the bulk removal of water for export and any transfers of bulk water across provincial-territorial and/or international borders. In addition, Western Premiers strongly oppose any unilateral US action to divert water out of US watersheds that have cross border impacts.
Note: Mr. Gordon Campbell, Premier-elect of British Columbia, attended the 2001 Western Premiers' Conference. However, in his current role as Premier-elect, Mr. Campbell was unable to give the official endorsement of the Province of British Columbia to the positions and commitments outlined in this Communiqué.