By Trevor Busch
While the United States has been retreating into increased trade protectionism under the Trump administration, Canada and 10 other Pacific Rim nations have forged ahead to reach a new trade accord that should help open economic doorways for member states.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership — otherwise known as the TPP for short — is expected to benefit Canada’s agriculture sector, especially beef and pork producers, who are now being granted market access to the much-coveted but long protected Japanese market, which rivals in Australia have enjoyed for years.
“The Japanese market is the third- largest economy in the world, and getting our cattle, bone-in, the type of pieces they want to get in, we believe we’re going to get that in without tariffs,” said Bow River MP Martin Shields. “So for the cattle industry, that is a very strong piece for us within our riding.”
Less enthusiastic have been the nation’s dairy and auto industries, where representatives have suggested the free-trade deal could cost jobs without providing a reciprocal benefit.
“Where we get hurt a little bit is probably on the supply management piece. Under CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union), there was a about a 3.1 per cent opening up the market to the Europeans for supply management. It’s a similar type of number, we believe, under TPP for supply management, so it opens the market to another three per cent of the dairy industry to the TPP countries. The Conservatives, when they were negotiating, were talking about compensation to people in that sector, but we haven’t seen that yet, and don’t know if that’s there.”
“The two will be cumulative, so that’s about six per cent for the supply management people, and we have lots of supply management in our constituency — dairy, poultry — so that is a bit of hit if there is no compensation. So that’s a bit of a negative on that side, but we’re not losing any more than that, it’s a small single-digit number.”
In 2017, the United States withdrew from the agreement. The other 11 TPP countries agreed in May 2017 to revive it and reached agreement in January 2018.
Even without the United States, the rewritten pact will create a market of 495 million people and a combined annual economic output of $13.5 trillion.
“We haven’t seen the actual details, more bits and pieces,” said Shields. “The TPP we were always in favour of. Actually most of the agreement was written by the Conservatives. Ed Fast was the trade minister, that’s why we know most of the stuff that’s from it, because he was part of building the TPP. It’s been kicking around for some time to get it done.”