Public Affairs Update Header
March 17, 2014
In This Issue
Canada signs trade agreement with South Korea
B.C. to celebrate one-year anniversary of Small Business Accord
Province moves forward with natural resource decisions
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.  

Canada signs trade agreement with South Korea
Last week, Prime Minister Steven Harper announced a trade agreement with South Korea that will phase out tariffs over a three-year time period, potentially adding as much as $1.7 billion to the Canadian economy.

The BC Chamber has welcomed the deal, which gives B.C. enhanced access to South Korea’s $1.1 trillion economy and 50 million consumers. To bring British Columbians information about the deal and B.C.’s trade opportunities and next frontiers, the BC Chamber hosted a Q&A session with the prime minister just after the deal was announced.

South Korea has been identified as a priority market by the current B.C. government, and is currently the province’s fourth-largest trading partner. Premier Christy Clark has stated that the new trade agreement will promote economic growth and job creation in B.C.

According to the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest export industries to South Korea include: aerospace, chemicals and plastics, life sciences, forestry products, seafood, automotive, agricultural products, processed food, wine and spirits, and furs and skins.

B.C. to celebrate one-year anniversary of Small Business Accord

This week (March 19), B.C. will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the province’s Small Business Accord.
The Accord is a significant win for B.C.’s small businesses, as it keeps the needs of small businesses front and centre in government policy and program decision-making.  It also seeks to battle red tape and to increase procurement opportunities for small businesses.
The BC Chamber was the original driving force behind the Accord andpartnered with government to achieve the final agreement.

Province moves forward with natural resource decisions
Last week in the legislature, the B.C. government moved forward with a number of important natural resource and environmental initiatives.

Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett announced the continuation of the Columbia River Treaty, including 14 principles used to guide the Province in discussions on the future of the treaty with the federal and U.S governments. Among other issues, the decision addresses flood control, hydropower generation, climate change, effective management of U.S. environmental requirements, agriculture water supply, river navigation and salmon migration. The treaty has no specified end date. Either country can terminate the agreement provisions as early as September 16, 2024.

Updates to the current Water Act were tabled in Bill 18 – the Water Sustainability Act, 2014. The act will make changes in seven areas: stream health and aquatic environments, water in land-use decisions, groundwater, water use in times of scarcity, water security, efficiency and conservation, large-scale water use, and a range of governance approaches.

Bill 4 – the Park Amendment Act – remains relevant in the legislature. The opposition proposed an amendment to the bill that would have delayed its passage for six months in order to allow for public consultation, however, this was voted down by government. The bill has undergone second reading and still requires passage at third reading and royal assent before it becomes law.

The provincial government also tabled Bill 11 – the Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2014 – that will add more than 55,000 hectares to B.C.’s protected areas system. If passed, the amendment will: add land to two existing conservancies and two parks; add marine waters to four existing conservancies; and, modify the boundaries of six parks, one conservancy and one ecological reserve.

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This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein