By Nikki Jamieson
When asked about how the Trans Pacific Partnership will impact the country, let alone Alberta, Little Bow MLA Dave Schneider had just one thing to say; “Positive.”
“The official opposition (Wildrose) is strongly urging Premier Notley to support the Trans Pacific Partnership,” said Schneider.
“It will be a win for Alberta, and I think it will expand out markets and diversify our economy.”
The biggest industry in the riding of Little Bow is agriculture. The partnership would mean these goods would be able to move duty-free between countries.
“There’ll be an erosion of the duty that’s been charged for (agriculture and industrial goods) to move between borders,” said Schneider.
“It’s got to be a win.”
However, while trade will be able to flow freely across the borders, it also means that a small portion – about 3.25 percent – of Canadian dairy business will be able to be taken over by foreign parties.
There is also the supply management aspect of the agriculture industry – currently, Canadian egg, dairy and chicken producers are allowed to produce a certain amount of product, with these imports being controlled with high tariffs. With the partnership, imports will no longer be restricted by these tariffs, which could potentially lead to dominating the market.
But Schneider says the federal government will take care of it.
“That’s quite a concern for the dairy folks, but the federal government has come up with some kinds of programs and initiatives, for those particular groups, that will kind of cushion, soften the blow to dairy, chicken and egg producers, as the partnership goes forward.”
There will be no “wild, drastic” moves, in terms of letting foreign investors in, and Schneider believes that the duty-free trade will be a boon to his constituents.
“It’s clear that the Trans Pacific Partnership will eliminate tariffs on almost all of Alberta’s key exports, and provide access to new opportunities in the age of the Pacific.”