Ag groups push for TPP participation as Australia, Japan set March timeline


With Australia and Japan saying they want to finalize the deal by March, Canadian agriculture groups are reiterating the importance of Canada participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (now officially known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership or CPTPP.)

There have been serious questions about Canada’s participation in the Pacific trade deal after Prime Minister Trudeau bailed on a meeting with other TPP leaders in Vietnam in November.

“For Canada to miss out on this trade agreement which, by all accounts, will go ahead with our without us, would be devastating to the middle-class Canadians that work hard every day on farms across the country. The damage of not being in the CPTPP to the sector, the economy, the people it employs and to Canada’s reputation as a reliable trading nation will be difficult to repair,” says Jeff Nielsen, president of Grain Growers of Canada, in a letter sent to Prime Minister Trudeau on Thursday.

Status quo is not an option for the Canadian cattle industry either, noted the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, in a statement.

“Either Canada joins the CPTPP and Canadian beef will join the club of preferential suppliers to Japan or Canada remains outside the CPTPP and Canadian beef producers will watch helplessly as our exports to Japan erode,” says the CCA.

There’s a similar message coming from the Canadian Pork Council and Canadian Meat Council.

“The failure to sign the CPTPP would result in huge losses to the hog sector leading to pork producers leaving their farms, and closures of processors and exporters,” said recently-relected CPC chair Rick Bergmann on Thursday.

“Left out of CPTPP, Canada would be ‘tariffed-out’ of Japan, a $1.2 billion market for Canadian meat exports. A deal without Canada could spell disaster for the Canadian meat industry as well as for other exporting industries,” said the national meat processor association.

The pressure from agriculture groups this week coincides with a meeting between the prime ministers of Australia and Japan, where they committed to signing the deal in March.

Following discussions with Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, Australian leader Malcolm Turnball was asked by a reporter in Japan on Thursday if he’s confident Canada will be part of the deal.

“There is a meeting of trade ministers scheduled in March in Chile and the goal is to have the TPP agreed, concluded then,” he said. “Now, of course, as we all know, trade talks invariably take a long time. There are hills and hollows as you go along to get to the goal. But Prime Minister Abe and I are very committed to it. We’re using all of our persuasive skills, such as they are, to ensure that we can get it agreed.”

TPP negotiators are scheduled to meet in Tokyo next week. A spokesperson for International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne confirmed Canada will be sending officials to Japan.

“Progress was made last year towards a possible agreement, but there is still some work to be done,” said Joseph Pickerill in an email to RealAgriculture. “Our priority is to ensure that it is the right deal for Canadian workers and businesses. Negotiations will continue to pursue a higher standard for trade in the burgeoning Asia-Pacific region.”

Related: TPP11 countries commit to “core elements”


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