Pacific trade deal progresses with Canada and without US

Wednesday, 24 Jan, 2018

The 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries have addressed the last few thorny issues and agreed to a deal, according to reports out of Japan. Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the new CPTPP would be an "engine to overcome protectionism" emerging in parts of the world.

He said it's great news for lumber exporters, and livestock producers, and many other Canadians and he believes it's smart for Canada to diversify its trade.

Trade minister David Parker is in Europe and not available for comment.

Hours after the Trump administration announced its first major tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a global audience that his country had just reached a historic trade deal with 10 Asia-Pacific countries.

It will also go ahead with its most controversial element, the Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) rule, intact.

Eric Miller, president of Washington-based Rideau Potomac Strategy Group and an adviser on the 2009 auto bailout, said the TPP deal does not undermine Canada's position in the NAFTA negotiations and that it shows the US that Canada has other options.

"Canada has always said that we would only agree to a deal that is in Canada's best interests", he said.

But after two-days of talks in Tokyo, the deal was struck and the countries expect to follow with an official signed agreement by early March.

The Canadian government has been under increasing pressure from business leaders and industry groups to sign the TPP. The symbolism from Canada was clear: When it comes to trade, the rest of the world is ready to move forward without President Trump.

The ABC has more details on the deal here.

Canada had initially balked at joining the proposed TPP past year, acting as the main holdout in negotiations after US President Donald Trump decided in early 2017 to go it alone under his "America First" policy. The domestic dairy sector has already been carved out once with CETA, now with TPP, as we're in the negotiations with NAFTA.

Trump continues to threaten that if he doesn't get the deal he wants, he'll pull the USA out of NAFTA altogether.

Canada was concerned about intellectual property protection, language rights and employment and environmental protections in the deal.

The deal includes the abolition of all tariffs on seafood, wine, sheep meat, cotton wool and manufactured goods across the region.

Australian exporters will benefit from new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

Most importantly, the deal would open up access for Canada to Japan's economy, the third-largest in the world.