The British Columbia government is exploring the creation of foreign trade zones (FTZs) in that province. Public Eye has reported, “A foreign trade zone is a location where tariffs are reduced or eliminated and goods can be stored duty or tax-free.” A Global TV report highlights that a FTZ is not just about the temporary storage of goods in a sprawling area of warehouses, but it includes the assembly of those goods too.
February: Public Eye reports, “(On February 22), the (provincial) ministry of transportation and infrastructure quietly announced it was searching for a consultant to study the pros and cons of establishing location-specific foreign trade zones in British Columbia.”
May: It was reported by Global TV that the consultant hired by the BC government will have just four months to report on the advisability of a foreign trade zone in British Columbia. We had speculated that this could mean the report would be available by mid-September.
June: The Council of Canadians held two public forums on the issue in Vancouver and Delta (Ladner).
August: The Delta Optimist reported, “That study has been completed and the government is currently reviewing the findings. …The findings of the study done for the B.C. government will be made public later this year.”
Today: Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington writes, “The Jobs Plan (launched by BC premier Christy Clark on September 22) mentions the Foreign Trade Zone, which it now calls the International Trade Zone (ITZ). I can’t tell you more about the ITZ because when the minister told the Delta North MLA (Guy Gentner) and I during question period that the feasibility report would be available in July, he failed to tell us the report would be termed a draft and thus be unavailable to MLAs.”
Huntington adds, “I have no doubt at all the government will authorize an ITZ and that it is almost guaranteed to be in Delta and on our agricultural land.” Public Eye has previously reported, “A (provincial) government spokesperson stressed Ottawa controls the policy levers to allow for the establishment of location-specific foreign trade zones… (The province says) that ‘no decision’ has been made on the issue ‘and one will not be made in the short term”.
The Council of Canadians
Delta chapter spokesperson Cathy Wilander says, “Foreign trade zones are also referred to as free trade zones or economic trade zones in other places. Governments section off land to create special investment climates for business and industry. What this usually means is the opportunity to do business without environmental and social policies/labour regulations to restrict corporations and business. We need to be aware of what the environmental and social cost to our community will be if a zone is established at Deltaport. How much farmland will be lost, who will protect workers’ rights, what will what will be the cost to the surrounding marine environment, how much more pollution will be created and what will be the impact on migratory birds and other wildlife? We will look at what we can do to stop this. We need to protect our community. There is nothing free about a free trade zone.”
For more blogs on the FTZ/ ITZ, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22foreign+trade+zone%22.