Harper under pressure to deliver fair TPP deal amid election
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, August 6, 2015 7:53PM EDT
With predictions that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal negotiations may come to a close smack dab in the middle of Canada’s federal election, the Conservative government is under pressure to ensure the deal doesn’t hurt key industries.
Speaking to CTV’s Power Play, Toronto-based international trade lawyer Lawrence Herman dismissed doubts from the Economist Intelligence Unit that the TPP is “doomed”, adding that he’s hopeful negotiations will conclude this fall.
“There’s a lot of momentum to get the details sorted out,” said Herman. “The actual text will take some time -- probably into the fall -- to be produced.”
The deal, larger than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), would create the world’s largest trade zone.
Despite hopes that negotiations would conclude at a meeting in Hawaii last week, talks about changes to major sectors, such as dairy and auto, prevented that from happening.
Herman is hopeful the final details will be sorted out when the trade ministers from the 12 affected countries meet again at the end of August.
That timing means a great deal to Canada, which is in the middle of an election campaign until Oct. 19, when voters head to the polls. And as the Conservative Party leader campaigns in his own territory, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will also be under a lot of pressure to negotiate a deal that satisfies the affected Canadian sectors, including dairy and auto.
“I think for Canada, for the Harper government, they have to come back from these negotiations showing that if we give up something on dairy imports, we do a lot in other areas,” said Herman.
The dairy and auto industries have expressed concern about the implications of the TPP for their sectors. The auto sector is worried about a possible provision allowing Japan to sell cars duty-free within the 12-country trade zone, even if that means the auto parts come from non-TPP countries.
“Say Japan wants to get their auto parts, say from China, well that causes Canada a lot of grief, because we are a major producer and exporter of auto parts.”
And Canada’s dairy sector is resisting the idea of opening up its sheltered market to more foreign imports from TPP countries. The country’s dairy sector is tightly regulated, meaning prices are inflated for the Canadian market.
With files from the Canadian Press