Canadian Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Santiago, Chile yesterday.
The Council of Canadians has numerous concerns about the so-called ‘comprehensive and progressive’ Trans-Pacific Partnership that the Trudeau government signed yesterday and will try to ratify in the House of Commons before the end of this year.
1- Largely the same as the TPP
Japan’s chief TPP negotiator Kazuyoshi Umemoto says, “One of the main reasons to keep the differences between the original TPP-12 and TPP-11 to a minimum is to induce the U.S. to come back to the deal.” Provisions in the original deal, including patent provisions on pharmaceutical drugs that would increase the costs for those who need to access them while boosting the profits of the transnational corporations that make them, were only suspended, not deleted or removed, which leaves the door open for them to return.
2- Public consultation ignored
In April 2017, the Liberal-dominated House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade issued its report on the TPP concluding the federal government should pursue a deal with TPP signatory countries. The NDP’s dissenting opinion to the Standing Committee’s report notes, “Despite the Committee’s study being called a public consultation, the Committee’s report gives little attention to the input provided by members of the public. It is worth noting that every individual who spoke at the public participation sessions expressed concerns with the TPP and in most cases opposed the agreement outright.”
3- Investor-state dispute settlement provision remains
Stuff notes, “[The New Zealand government’s National Interest Analysis] includes a section on potential disadvantages to New Zealand, including around the controversial ISDS clause. ISDS clauses allow foreign investors to sue governments for law changes in an overseas tribunal. New Zealand and Australia have signed a ‘side letter’ which will stop investors from both countries suing under ISDS [but New Zealand’s Trade Minister David] Parker [acknowledges] ISDS has not disappeared from the agreement.” In November 2017, the Trudeau government stated, “Environment and labour rights will form crucial pillars of a new agreement and will be subject to dispute settlement mechanisms.”
4- Minimal gains vs large risks, job loss
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives comments, “Even the rosiest economic projections of the CPTPP come up with only tiny economic gains: for example, a 0.082 per cent increase in Canadian GDP by 2035. This represents a one-time increase after 15 years, not an annual increase.” University of Auckland professor Jane Kelsey argues these gains are minuscule compared to risks involved with signing up to the agreement.” In January 2016, a Tufts University study found that the original TPP would cost Canada 58,000 jobs and increase income inequality.
5- Aspirational text in preamble, not binding rights
The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network says, “The additional published text is only nine pages, with some changes from Canada to the non-binding preamble that mention cultural identity, indigenous rights and gender equity, but these are aspirational only, and will not affect the legally binding provisions in the rest of the agreement.” The National Organization for Women (NOW) has commented, “There have been two established patterns with free trade agreements: they tend to export jobs abroad and depress wages. This makes the Trans-Pacific Partnership a feminist issue.”
The Trudeau government’s “comprehensive and progressive” TPP is largely the same the TPP the Conservative government under Stephen Harper signed in 2015. The Liberals have ignored the thousands of people who participated in their public consultation on the TPP, and while touted as “progressive”, the deal includes the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, it means job losses and greater inequality in Canada and around the world, and it does not protect the rights of women or Indigenous peoples.
The Council of Canadians says the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a bad deal and calls on the Trudeau government to scrap it.