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Canada signs on to CPTPP

Senators chastised the government for taking them for granted on time-sensitive trade bills

Ottawa – Grain and livestock groups seeking greater market access in Asia are among the loudest voices welcoming the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Senate gave final approval to the deal Oct.25, and the bill received Royal Assent shortly afterwards.

All that remains is notifying the CPTT administration in Auckland, New Zealand, that Canada has officially ratified its participation in the trade deal. The Foreign Affairs Department was asked when that would happen but has not yet responded.

Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia already have or about to ratify the deal. The agreement comes into effect 60 days after there are six signatories.

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Senators unhappy

Recognizing the importance of early approval of the trade deal to Canadian exporters, the Senate dealt with the bill within a week of receiving it from the Commons. However it put on the record a rebuke to the government saying that legislators shouldn’t be taken for granted in the process of approving new laws.

Senate committee chair Senator Raynell Andreychuk said the government needs to be better prepared and not pressure the Senate to quickly pass to pass legislation.

While the committee did that with this bill, in part because it had already extensively studied the Pacific trade talks, “this will not always be the case.”

“Previously, we have been told that we had a date to meet and found out that it really wasn’t as urgent as they made it out to be,” Andreychuk said. “We’ve had, as I say, good analysis done and good interpretation and we are convinced that being in the first six is where we need to be.”

Parliamentarians need to be factored into a very complex negotiation, she said.

“We believe that we need to be notified of the regulations, as the public needs to know that the trade agreement itself and also the regulations that follow hinge, and they must be adhered to. Parliamentarians should be aware of this process and our comments should be taken into account in that context because we’re reflecting what we heard Canadians say.”

The committee also wants the government to develop a robust implementation strategy to help businesses capitalize on the trade deals.

Industry pleased

Jeff Nielsen, president of Grain Growers of Canada, said it was “a great day for Canada.”

“[We] will be one of the first countries to benefit from the improved access to Japan, Vietnam and the eight other CPTPP members.” Nielsen said.

The deal will lower tariff and non-tariff barriers and introduce new rules to facilitate the trade in grains, which will help get more Canadian grains onto the plates of Asian consumers, he said. Canadian grain farmers will also benefit from increased demand from the livestock sector because of the improved access beef and pork farmers receive in the agreement.

Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, said urged the government to swiftly complete the final step of notifying the CPTPP Secretariat to bring the agreement into effect as soon as possible.

“This will unlock significant benefits for farmers, producers, food manufacturers and exporters in every region of the country,” he said. “Opening up Asian markets will help create jobs and secure billions of dollars in prosperity here at home – ensuring that we are not left behind in a region that is fiercely competitive.

“For our members in the beef, pork, grains, cereals, pulses, soybeans, canola as well as the malt, sugar, and food manufacturing industries this ensures Canadian exporters will benefit on day one from tariff reductions,” he said. “It’s the first step to eliminating many tariffs that have prevented meaningful market access to key Asian markets.”

David Colwell, chair of the Canadian Meat Council, said agreements of the magnitude of the CPTPP “are critical for Canadian companies to grow their business into the important markets that are included in the partnership, and for the government to reach its export goals for agricultural products.”

The CPTPP agreement can potentially increase beef and pork sales by at least $500 million annually, which will lead to the creation of an additional 5,800 new jobs in the Canadian meat sector, he said. To be able to supply these new markets however, the meat sector needs labour, and looks forward to ongoing government support to make this happen.

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