Legislation required to implement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership — better known as the CPTPP — was tabled in the House of Commons on Thursday morning.
“The momentum of our progressive trade agenda continues with this next important step on CPTPP. We negotiated the best deal for Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and this Agreement will benefit industries across Canada—from beef and barley to forestry products, seafood, manufacturing and services,” said Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne, in a statement after introducing Bill C-79.
Agriculture and business groups are calling on the government to also pass the implementation act before Parliament rises for summer, which is currently scheduled to occur at the end of next week.
The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) is calling on MPs and Senators to remain in Ottawa as long as it takes to pass the bill.
“We’ve got unprecedented instability in North America and a chance to have a first mover advantage in Asia — now is the perfect time to lock down our access to growing Asia-Pacific markets,” said CAFTA president Brian Innes on Wednesday. “We urge Parliamentarians in both Houses to pass CPTPP legislation before the summer break.”
Mexico ratified the Pacific trade deal domestically in April, while Japan is expected to before the end of the month. CAFTA says Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Vietnam are likely to soon follow suit. The deal takes effect when six of the 11 participating countries have approved it. Champagne indicated last week that the Canadian government is aiming to be among the first six countries.
“The first-mover advantage is real in trade deals and Canada cannot afford to be left behind our competitors,” said Innes. “Thousands of jobs and billions in agri-food exports are at stake. It’s imperative that our Parliamentarians come together and act swiftly to get this done.”
The previous form of the agreement – the original Trans-Pacific Partnership – has already been carefully studied, noted Jack Froese, president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, “so we ask Parliamentarians to direct their attention to passing this bill promptly.”
Outside the agriculture industry, the Business Council of Canada is also urging Ottawa to ratify the bill as soon as possible.
“The CPTPP has long been a priority for Canadian business, but it’s now even more important given the uncertainty that surrounds NAFTA negotiations and the imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum,” said the Business Council’s president and CEO, John Manley, on Thursday. “In the face of protectionism, Canada must aggressively pursue trade liberalization and diversification with like-minded partners. Implementing the CPTPP will send a strong message that Canada is committed to multilateral cooperation and trade agreements based on transparent, enforceable rules.”
Canada signed the CPTPP text in Chile in early March.
Research commissioned by CAFTA found the trade deal could increase Canadian agriculture exports, including beef, pork, canola, wheat, barley, oats, pulses, soybeans, sugar and processed foods, by nearly $2 billion annually.