There’s a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with President Obama running tight on time and the frontrunners in the race to replace him — Trump, Clinton, Sanders, Cruz — voicing their opposition to the proposed trade deal.
Both the U.S. and Japan, due to the size of their economies, must be part of the Pacific Rim trade agreement for it to go ahead.
Regardless of the political environment in the U.S., Canadian agriculture groups are pushing the new Liberal government to ratify the text, which was agreed to by the Conservatives two weeks before the federal election last fall.
“We shouldn’t sit back and wait to ratify. We should be a leader in this. Ratify first and the other countries will come along,” says Rick White, CEO of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, in the interview below filmed at CropConnect in Winnipeg.
- New Zealand
- United States
The Liberals emphasized that signing the deal in New Zealand last month was not a commitment to ratifying it, as they’re assessing public opinion and examining the potential impact.
“Our direction is to consult with stakeholders and then we’ll have an open debate on the floor of the House of Commons. Of course it has to win a vote on the floor of the House before we would approve the TPP” was Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay’s non-committal response when asked in late February about the path his government is taking.
White says the Canola Growers don’t see sitting out of the TPP as an option.
“There is no status quo. If we’re not part of this deal and it goes forward without us, we will be at a competitive disadvantage quickly into the region where some of our best markets are,” he says.
U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking at Commodity Classic in New Orleans last week, said he’s confident there will be enough support to get the deal through the House and the Senate under the current administration.
“If we don’t do this, it’s not as if the world just stops and everything just stays the way it is,” he said. “We’re going to continue to see China try to negotiate an all-Asia agreement…it won’t create a level playing field for our goods, that’s for sure. Why would we cede that opportunity to China?”
All 12 countries have two years from the signing that took place on February 4 to ratify their participation.
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