A trade-off in trade talks will see Ottawa pour big cash into a new fund created to boost the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government says the feds will provide 70 per cent of the cash for the new $400-million fund.
According to the province, the fund will be used to invest in research and development, new marketing initiatives and infrastructure.
“This unprecedented level of investment in the provincial fishery will help us achieve previously unimagined economic gains from our renewable fish resources, which will support economic prosperity in rural communities for generations to come,” Premier Kathy Dunderdale said in announcing the fund.
The federal contribution amounts to $280 million. The province will front the remaining $120 million.
According to the province, Ottawa agreed to make the contribution in recognition of Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision to forgo its minimum processing requirements for European markets.
That issue had been a sticking point in Canada-EU trade discussions.
Earlier this month, Ottawa and the European Union inked a tentative agreement on the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement, or CETA.
The fishery fund announced Tuesday will span three years, but won’t start until CETA comes into effect — something that's expected in 2015.
Once that happens, almost all EU tariffs on Canadian fish and seafood will be eliminated.
Today, only 13.1 per cent is duty-free. But by 2022, all seafood will be 100 per cent duty-free.
While Newfoundland and Labrador agreed to drop minimum processing requirements for European markets, they will still apply for other areas of the world, such as Asia.
Industry, union applause
Industry and union representatives applauded Tuesday’s announcement.
“Gaining this funding puts us in position to get established quickly in this market and build a strong brand based on our high-quality products," Fish, Food and Allied Workers union president Earle McCurdy said.
Derek Butler, executive director of the Association of Seafood Producers, congratulated both levels of government.
“Tariff-free access to European markets was a game changing development for the industry; gaining access to this fund secures the win,” Butler said.
While Tuesday's announcement involved $280 million in funding from Ottawa, there were no federal government representatives in attendance.