Canada to sign on to Pacific trade pact

Canada had initially snubbed the proposed trade deal last year, acting as the main holdout in negotiations after US President Donald Trump decided to go it alone under his 'America First 

Published: 23rd January 2018 11:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd January 2018 11:11 PM   |  A+A-

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada and 10 other countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement. (Photo | AP)


OTTAWA: Canada has agreed to sign on to the resurrected Trans-Pacific Partnership along with 10 other Asia-Pacific countries, moving forward with the trade pact after the United States pulled out last year.

The news comes as negotiators from Canada, the United States and Mexico sit down in Montreal for a sixth round of talks aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Canada -- the second-largest economy in the TPP -- had initially snubbed the proposed trade deal last year, acting as the main holdout in negotiations after US President Donald Trump decided in early 2017 to go it alone under his "America First" policy.

But with Trump also threatening to pull his country out of NAFTA and time running out to reach that deal, Canada is in the hotseat to diversify its trade relationships.

A senior government official said Canadian trade envoys met with their counterparts in Tokyo to discuss a revision of the TPP, moving towards creating one of the world's largest free trade blocs.

"We made significant progress on the sticking points that we had identified on the sidelines of the APEC summit," the official said. 

"And we are looking to sign the deal."

A statement from the government of Singapore, which confirmed the deal, said the parties would seek to sign the TPP by early March.

Ottawa had held out to maintain environmental and labour protections linked to freer markets under the TPP deal. Those clauses became much less attractive to countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile and Peru after the US pullout.

China is not included in the TPP as the pact was initially driven by the former US administration as a counterweight to surging Chinese power in Asia.

The Tokyo TPP talks were only the second since November, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to show up at a leaders' gathering on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam to sign an agreement-in-principle.

Crucial for Canada would be its access to Japan's market, the third-largest in the world. The TPP also includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.


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