The Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead, and Canada needs to move on to ‘plan B’ for increasing market access into Asia, according to Glen Hodgson, senior fellow with the Conference Board of Canada.
“The Japanese are trying to keep it alive, but it’s effectively dead. I do think we should be developing a ‘plan B’ for Asia, and it won’t be a big deal, so much as a series of little initiatives,” he says, in the interview below, following his presentation at CropConnect in Winnipeg this week.
That means developing the South Korean market under the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and pushing forward on bilateral discussions with Japan and China, explains Hodgson, suggesting a bilateral arrangement with Japan — the crown jewel for Canadian agriculture in the TPP — should be possible.
“I think we have a lot to exchange. The Japanese want quality and we produce quality at every level,” he notes.
Canada has committed to attending a meeting with several other TPP countries in Chile in mid-March: “I do think as a matter of philosophy Canada should be at the table every time people talk about free trade, simply to protect our interests, but my expectations are low on what will be achieved there,” says Hodgson.
China has also been invited to the meeting in Chile, as it looks to tighten trade ties with some of the TPP countries.
“That’s the hidden, unexpected consequence of the U.S. withdrawing from the TPP. China is trying to build it’s own regional free trade group right now, and Canada can have both, frankly,” says Hodgson. “We can deepen our relationship with the Americans, go deeper in NAFTA, but also find ways to access other markets.”