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NEWS: Fast reviewing Delta foreign trade zone report

The Delta Optimist reports, “There’s been talk of a foreign trade zone being established in Delta to complement container port activities. The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation recently made public a report by InterVISTAS Consulting Inc. on the feasibility of establishing a special trade zone.”

“The study, which didn’t specifically mention South Delta or the Tsawwassen First Nation, looked at a number of issues and potential benefits of having a foreign trade zone, aimed at attracting economic activity that would otherwise take place elsewhere.” Last April, the Optimist reported that, “Eric Waltz, president of Global Container Terminals Canada, noted lands adjacent to Deltaport, which is eyed for a major expansion in the next few years, could be an ideal candidate to establish a foreign trade zone, particularly the new logistics centre which will open at the Tsawwassen First Nation.”

Today’s Optimist article highlights, “The consultant’s report notes the federal government is marketing trade zone activity as part of its Gateway initiative, announcing in its 2011 budget that it will re-examine the existing policies and programs. The consultant’s report notes the next step is to develop a new federal policy that keeps the best features of the existing federal programs, while expanding the range of activities that can be done within the zones. Fast said the federal government will now review the findings of the consultant’s report.”

Council of Canadians Delta-Richmond chapter president Cathy Wilander has stated, “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 Council of Canadians blogs noting concerns about the proposed foreign trade zone, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22foreign+trade+zone%22.