Skip to content

Trudeau government still committed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Francois-Philippe Champagne

Trade minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has signalled his interest in saving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Champagne says, “There’s a number of countries which would be interested in either considering bilateral trade agreements or seeing potentially what could be done with TPP.” Bloomberg reports, “His comments signal Canada’s optimism the TPP can survive in some form without the US – echoing recent votes of confidence by Australia and Japan.”

And while many have stated their opposition to the TPP at hearings, consultations and protests across the country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has commented, “In our conversations with Canadians, with industries which are ongoing, there are a lot of people in favour of it and there are a few who have real concerns and we’re looking at understanding and allaying certain fears and building on some of the opportunities.”

In keeping with that, even though President Donald Trump announced on his first day in office that the United States will be withdrawing from the TPP, Canada is not expected to withdraw from the TPP before February 2018, the two-year deadline that had been set by TPP countries when they signed the deal in Auckland in February 2016.

Council of Canadian chairperson Maude Barlow has commented, “I’ve watched these trade agreements for a long time. The TPP is not dead til it’s dead.”

In terms of bilateral agreements, the Trudeau government is expected to begin free trade talks with China next month. It could also push to restart talks for a Canada-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. With respect to multilateral deals, the Trudeau government could pursue joining talks for the 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (which includes seven of the twelve TPP signatory countries) and/or the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (which would include all twelve TPP signatory countries).

The November 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam could be a key next step in this process.

The Council of Canadians rejects the Trudeau government’s championing of free trade agreements – including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) – that advance economic liberalization policies such as privatization, austerity, deregulation, and greater power for transnational capital.

We are not impressed that Champagne recently stated, “This is my priority number one, two and three — CETA, CETA, CETA. There’s enormous interest in the progressive trade agenda put forward by Canada.”

We call on the Trudeau government to immediately renounce the TPP given it would mean the loss of 771,000 jobs in the twelve countries (including 58,000 jobs in Canada), increase income inequality, result in higher pharmaceutical drug costs, contains the controversial investor-state dispute settlement provision, and violates Indigenous rights.