Canada’s international trade minister says Canada intends to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in New Zealand on February 4, while emphasizing “signing does not equal ratifying” the TPP.

Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade (source: GAC)
Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade (source: GAC)

Chrystia Freeland posted an open letter on her department’s website earlier today indicating “when the 11 other countries convene to sign the agreement next week, Canada will attend as well. Not attending would mean withdrawing from the TPP altogether, even before Canadians have had an opportunity to fully debate its implications.”

A majority vote in Parliament would still be required to ratify the agreement. Signing the text would allow it to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before lawmakers decide whether to give their approval, she explains. All participating countries would have two years to ratify their participation.

While supply-managed dairy and poultry sectors would concede some market access in the deal, export-oriented sectors of Canadian agriculture say Canada must participate for ag exports to remain competitive and to potentially increase market access to other countries, particularly Japan.

With Parliament resuming in Ottawa this week, Freeland says she has written the Government and Opposition House Leaders as well as the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, calling for “a robust and transparent examination of the TPP. In particular, this should include extensive, non-partisan consideration, analysis, and testimony from all regions, sectors, and backgrounds. Most importantly, this process will be fully public.”

Since becoming minister, Freeland says she has taken part in over 70 meetings on the TPP, saying “it is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns.

Negotiations on the TPP concluded on October 5, 2015, just two weeks before the federal election that saw Freeland’s Liberal party take power. It’s not yet known what will happen to the $4.3 billion set of programs announced by former trade minister Ed Fast to help supply-managed producers adjust to increased imports in the deal.

Related TPP coverage:


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