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Jim Carr, Minister of International Trade and Diversification

from left to right: Laurel Malkin, Jim Carr,Stanley Gomez, and Howard Loewen

Jim Carr, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre and Minister of International Trade Diversification, joined Israeli Ambassador to Canada, Nimrod Barkan to celebrate CIFTA receiving Royal Assent.



by Rhonda Spivak, June 25, 2019


Jim Carr, Minister of  International Trade and Diversification, was the featured speaker at  an event to celebrate  the modernized Canada -Israel Free trade Agreement (CIFTA). The event was hosted by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg in the mutipurpose room at the Asper Jewish Community Campus  on June 24, 2019.  Carr met with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, and local business people to highlight how Canada and Israel are creating the right conditions for trade in their innovative, knowledge-based economies, supported by the modernized CIFTA.
Laurel Malkin, President of the Jewish Federation brought greetings  and noted that the original Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement came into effect over twenty years ago. 
Malkin said that the modernized CIFTA has created "new opportunities to further expand the Canada -Israel economic partnership." Malkin added that the Honourable Jim Carr, who is the Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre "has led the charge of this new progressive partnership between Canada and Israel."
In his remarks, Carr noted that Jews have been in Canada since 1759 and "now our community of more than 350,000 continues to impressively contribute to  Canada's national fabric." Carr stated that " I am proud of the partnership" between Canada and Israel, and he said he would seek to continue to "deepen the ties" that bind the two countries.
Carr noted that "two-way trade" between Israel and Canada "is now almost $2 billion." He added "And while Manitoba's share of Canada's trade with Israel may be small, it has seen recent growth, with an increase of 35 percent of merchandise exports between 2017 and 2018."
As Carr stated,  pursuant to CIFTA,  "close to 100 % of all current Canadian agriculture, agri-food and seafood exports to Israel will benefit from some form of preferential tariff treatment. This means that Canadian exports, such as cranberries, baked goods, animal feed, fish, and seafood all stand to benefit from this modernized agreement." 
Carr indicated that "CIFTA is important to Canada because we are creating wealth" and "creating jobs for our people."
As Carr noted, CIFTA was given Royal Assent on May the 27th of this year. It extends meaningful access to each other's markets and introduces chapters  on gender equality, on labour, on environmental protection, and supports for small and medium-sized enterprises. The modernized CIFTA includes provisions that recognize the importance of e-commerce, and also contains a dispute settlement mechanism, and institutional provisions to enhance transparency. (Note that CIFTA needs to be ratified by the Israeli government, which should happen shortly).
Carr noted that he's had " the pleasure of visiting Israel many times since the 1990s, "but last September was his first trip as Canada's Minister of International Trade Diversification." While he was there he addressed two organizations, supporting, for example, LGB2Q2  businesses.
Carr also stated that he had visited Ramallah and "launched the Palestinian-Canadian Business Council, which has since brought two delegations of Palestinian business people to Canada."
Carr pointed out that his "friend" Munther Zeid was in the audience. He explained that Munther's grandfather was the muhktar (mayor) of a town of Deir Ammar  in the territories in the West Bank. Carr recalled how he travelled with Sol Kaney, who was then the treasurer of the World Jewish Congress, who drove with him from East Jerusalem with the operative of the Mennonite Central Committee in Jerusalem, along with his translator, who was a Palestinian-Israeli Arab. "So in the car you had a Jewish journalist, you had the 89-year-old treasurer of the World Jewish Congress, you had a Christian NGO operative, and you had an Arab person doing the translating, all so I could give your grandfather a hug and catch a picture of him calling his people to vote for the first time in the West Bank and Gaza. And when your grandfather hugged Sol Kaney, these two righteous, intelligent, thoughtful leaders of communities, Jewish and Arab, I said there is hope for the world." 
Carr noted that Israel is a "dynamic country that "leads the world in start-up companies." He said it was a very small country that has welcomed people from all over the world. Canada, a country of 35 million people, also has welcomed people from all over the world.
In his remarks Carr also indicated that Canada's Trade Commissioner services have been improved."Other governments closed the trade office in Winnipeg; we re-opened it." There are three Trade Commisioners here and they're in this room."
Prior to Minister Carr speaking, the audience heard from Nimrod Barkan, Ambassador of Israel to Canada  who recorded a video greeting in which he said CIFTA strengthens Israel-Canadian ties, and "Long live Israel-Canada relations."
After Carr spoke there was a panel discussion that discussed CIFTA with Carr, Stanley Gomes, Canada's Senior Trade Commisioner to the State of Israel, based in Tel-Aviv and Howard Loewen, CEO of MicroPilot, which has headquarters just outside of Winnipeg.  Malkin asked panelists a number of questions, and an interesting discussion occured.  
Loewen told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that that his company "exports control systems for drones to Israel. After China and the United States, Israel is our third largest market, because Israel has always been a leader in drones." MicroPilot's Tactical Aerostat System is operational with the Israel Defense Force, Israeli police and counter terror forces, Israeli secret service and Israeli border patrol as well as several security companies and TV broadcasters.
Loewen said at the event that he had gone to Israel and "gone there often." He added that contact that is "face to face  is still important."
Gomez works within the Trade Branch of Global Affairs Canada and is focused on promoting multiculturalism and international trade. Gomez noted that Israel "is a casual society" and this feature "is an important part of making trade happen." He also indicated that  Israel's GDP per capita is similiar to that of Canada's. However, food prices in Israel are much higher than the average in developed countries. This means that Canadian exporters from the agri-food sector won't need to worry about discounting export sales prices to Israel.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.