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Western provinces to announce Asia Pacific economic partnership

The Globe and Mail reports today that, “British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan will announce an economic partnership agreement Friday designed to boost trade and investment with countries including China, Japan and Korea, sources familiar with the plan said.”

“The deal, which will be unveiled in Regina, would position western Canada as a major trade and investment hub.”

“Rich in resources including oil, coal, wood products and potash, the western provinces believe that by combining to create a larger economic entity, they will gain more attention and influence with Asian governments and companies.”

“A senior official with British Columbia’s provincial government described the three-way deal as an ‘economic agreement,’ that will help the West market itself as a business friendly destination for Asian trade and investment.”

(Though in the same breathe it is reported that, “The agreement will not result in any dramatic steps to lower barriers to outside investment in the three provinces, an official said.”)

“(An Alberta official) said Saskatchewan is not expected to sign on to the Trade, Industry and Labour Mobility Agreement that B.C. and Alberta have already created.  ‘I don’t expect them to be signing that exact agreement,’ the official said.”

(That said, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix has reported that, “In 2009, Saskatcjewan premier Brad Wall agreed in principle to the Western Economic Partnership with the leaders of B.C. and Alberta, with the three provinces promising the ‘largest barrier-free trade and investment market in Canada.’ A formal deal was supposed to be reached by Jan. 1 of this year but was delayed.” The deal – criticized as TILMA under a new name – is now expected to be signed this week.)

The Asia-Pacific agreement is reportedly being driven by the concern that “Canada is being left out of talks to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a group that could form the basis of a free trade deal for all of Asia.”

“Premiers from all three provinces will travel to China and Japan in May to promote the new pact.”

The full article is at http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20100428.escenic_1550110/BNStory/Business/ANDY+HOFFMAN+AND+NATHAN+VANDERKLIPPE.