Trans Pacific Partnership could be big boost to Canada’s economy
Troy Media – by Alan MacKenzie
Canada’s agriculture and meat industries are praising Tuesday’s announcement that Canada has been invited into the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement at the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Canada is the 11th country to join the free-trade talks. Mexico was invited to join Monday. Other countries involved in the free trade agreement currently under negotiation are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Japan has also expressed interest in joining the negotiations.
The current TPP membership represents a market of 510 million people and a GDP of $17.6 trillion. With the participation of Canada and Mexico the market will comprise 658 million people and a GDP of $20.5 trillion.
Ron Bonnett, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), said the TPP opens a gateway to Asia-Pacific markets, and represents significant market opportunities for Canadian farmers and a strong boost to the Canadian economy.
“There are many important markets to Canadian farmers within the Asia-Pacific region,” Bonnett stated in a release. “Considering the economic growth rate in Asia-Pacific, TPP membership is an important strategic decision for our country’s long-term economic growth and prosperity. Both the United States and Australia are members of the TPP. To remain on the same playing field and maintain our competitiveness, this is a logical and essential step.”
“As in past bilateral trade deals, we expect the government to maintain its stated position and strong support for supply management and to ensure the necessary measures for its success,” he added.
The CFA said it will monitor the negotiations as they move forward and will continue to work with the government to secure the best deal for Canadian farmers.
The Canadian Meat Council (CMC) said Canada’s participation in the TPP is of “vital importance” to beef and pork trade.
“Of the 11n other countries that have joined or are prospective members of the TPP negotiations, 10 are already destinations for Canadian meat products. It is vitally important for Canada’s export-dependent livestock and meat sector that this country maintain competitive access to these critical markets,” CMC executive director James Laws stated Tuesday.
Laws said that Canadian meat exports would have become progressively disadvantaged in Canada’s absence in the negotiations.
“The ultimate result would have been reduced competitiveness, lower investment and lost jobs in not only all segments of Canada’s highly-integrated livestock and meat chain from cow-calf producers to feedlot operators, meat processors, truck and rail transporters and port operators, but also within the many companies that provide inputs to each link of the chain,” Laws stated. “It is for these reasons that Canada’s meat processors have been urging the Canadian government to join the ambitious TPP negotiations at the earliest possible opportunity.”
According to the CMC, Canada currently provides tariff-free unlimited access to pork and horsemeat imports from all countries of the world. Beef and veal products are imported duty-free from existing free trade partners the United States, Mexico and Chile. Beef and veal imports from other countries that exceed a tariff-rate quota of 76,409 tonnes are subject to an import duty of 26.5 per cent.
The Canadian beef industry is prepared to offer open and tariff-free access to the Canadian market in exchange for similar concessions from the other TPP member countries.
Canada announced its interest in joining the TPP at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in November 2011. Since then, Canada has held consultations with all nine TPP member countries in order to gain their support.
Canada will enter the talks at the earliest opportunity, after each country has its own domestic process to ratify Canada’s participation – likely early this fall.
TPP negotiations continue with the next round scheduled for July 2 to 10 in San Diego, California.
Alan MacKenzie is a reporter for Troy Media and Canadian Meat Business.