Canada positions itself to soon debut trans-pacific trade bill

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BNA | 25 May 2018

Canada positions itself to soon debut trans-pacific trade bill

y BJ Siekierski

The Canadian government could soon introduce a bill to implement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), possibly as early as June 19.

International Trade Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne tabled the CPTPP text in Parliament May 22, inching Canada closer to ratification and encouraging Canadian proponents of the 11-country trade deal.

Under Canada’s Policy on Tabling Treaties in Parliament, the government now must wait 21 sitting days before it can introduce implementing legislation and begin the far more time-consuming part of the ratification process.

The earliest it could do that is June 19, two days before Parliament is scheduled to break for the summer until Sept. 17.

Momentum?

Just because the Canadian government can introduce a bill in June, however, doesn’t mean it will.

Champagne has previously indicated that legislation is more likely to come in the fall, and the government did nothing to draw attention to the text being tabled in Parliament this week.

That fall timeline has concerned Canadian exporters, who are pushing for quicker action.

The CPTPP would come into force after six countries have ratified it—though only among those six—and Canadian exporters worry they would be forced to play catch up in vital new markets such as Japan and Vietnam if the government moves too slowly.

The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), a large coalition that accounts for 90 percent of Canada’s agri-food exports, complimented the government on the first ratification step while urging it to “keep up the momentum.”

“Other countries are moving fast to implement the agreement. Mexico ratified the deal in April, Australia tabled the treaty in its Parliament and vows to ratify soon and the deal has successfully made it through Japan’s Lower House with a clear plan to vote on it before the end of June,” they noted in a May 24 press release.

“Malaysia and Chile are both expected to implement the agreement quickly and New Zealand, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam and Brunei are all working towards an autumn implementation date.”

The trade alliance added that being part of the original six would give Canada more influence in negotiating the terms of entry for new members, including potentially the U.S. should it seek to join the pact.

New Opportunities

Champagne’s spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment May 25 on the possibility of implementing legislation being introduced in June, but Champagne was in and around Toronto on May 24-25 touting the coming benefits of the agreement.

“The CPTPP will provide new opportunities for Ontario exporters by eliminating tariffs on almost all of the province’s key exports to CPTPP markets, including crops like wheat, communications technologies, and minerals like diamonds and nickel,” according to a government press release May 24.

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source: BNA