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NEWS: TPP could eclipse NAFTA

The Globe and Mail reports this morning, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (is a) broad multicountry deal (that) could eclipse NAFTA in importance… John Weekes, Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator, said Ottawa can’t afford to be left out of talks that appear to be offering signatories a deeper economic relationship with the U.S. than can be found in the North American free-trade agreement.”
Weekes says, “What we’re talking about here – if it really does become what Obama says it will be – is we’re renegotiating NAFTA in the same way we renegotiated the Canada-U.S. FTA when we started the North American free-trade talks.”

The article adds, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which include countries from Vietnam to New Zealand to Malaysia, seek to forge a massive free-trade zone – one that President Barack Obama’s administration has said will ‘set a new standard for global trade’. Japan recently joined and Mexico is also asking for a seat. There’s a new urgency to striking a free-trade pact that, even without Mexico and Canada, would unite 600-million people in nations that produce $20-trillion in annual economic output.”

Reuters has reported, “The deal, with Japan included, would create a regional economic group about 40 percent larger than the 27-nation European Union.”

It is expected that the broad outlines of the free trade agreement will be completed by July 2012.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “The nine countries are promoting it as a 21st-century trade deal that will seek to streamline supply chains, regulations and rules of origin across the region, as well as to facilitate trade of green and digital goods. …Concerns (have been raised) that the intellectual-property protections being proposed for drugs would limit access to access to life-saving medicines, and that some provisions would continue to allow companies to sue governments over rules to protect the environment.”

Postmedia reports, “(This means) Canada’s supply management system is on the table. A handful of countries in the TPP negotiations…have been resisting Canada’s entry into the group because of the Canadian supply management system that protects fewer than 20,000 dairy and poultry farmers behind a tariff wall and hands them production quotas. …The prime minister (now says) Canada can ‘easily meet’ the broad strokes of the agreement unveiled Saturday by Obama, even if it means throwing into the mix a supply management system that forces Canadians to pay higher prices for products like milk, cheese, chicken and eggs.”

A Harper government media release issued this past weekend states, “The government has invested over $1.4 billion in the Asia-Pacific Gateway to improve and expand our ports and infrastructure… Examples include the construction of the four-lane South Fraser Perimeter Road along the Fraser River…”

And Platts reports, “Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said November 13 he wants a regulatory decision by early 2013, a year ahead of the current schedule, on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project to expedite the shipment of Alberta oil sands crude to Asia. …’The Chinese are ready to buy’, he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. ‘The issue is building the infrastructure to get our resources to China.’ To that end, Oliver said he now expects Northern Gateway’s hearings to be completed within a year of starting in January 2012.”

For additional concerns – on public services, investment and procurement – please see Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew’s blog at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=11930.