Time for Trans-Pacific Partnership is now

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the biggest game in town for Canada’s agricultural and food exporters. And after five years of negotiations, a deal is finally in sight.

A recent commitment by U.S. president Barack Obama and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe showed that a deal is close.

With Japan and the United States at the epicentre of this mega-regional free trade agreement, the remaining dominoes will fall into place once they agree.

Some have highlighted what others are seeking from Canada, but the importance of the deal for Canada, and Canada’s agri-food exporters in particular, should not be underestimated.

Canada’s agricultural industry is one of the most trade-dependent agricultural sectors in the world. The country exports $50 billion a year in agricultural and agri-food products, which is more than half of everything we produce. It means that more than 90 percent of Canada’s farmers depend on exports, as well 40 percent of the food processing sector.

The TPP will preserve and maintain Canada’s place in an integrated North American economy and boost access to the rapidly growing Asian-Pacific economies of Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

And then there’s Japan, the crown jewel of the TPP. It’s a premium market that demands $4 billion per year in Canadian agri-food products, which is 10 percent of Canada’s total agri-food exports.


Japan is the largest predictable market for Canadian canola seed, the second largest market for Canadian malt and Canadian pork, the fourth largest market for Canadian beef and an important high-value market for Canadian wheat and pulses.

Can you imagine an export-based country like Canada being outside a trade agreement that gives our global competitors preferred access to one of our highest value and most stable markets?

With all of these possibilities, it is clear that this trade deal has broader benefits than any before it. It includes an unprecedented number of Asian-Pacific countries and could expand disciplines to cover 21st century trading realities and set the tone for a regional trading block that other countries are already lining up to join.

However, we’re not there yet. We still need the 12 member nations to come to a final agreement that will allow Canadian agri-food exporters to secure and expand a market of 800 million customers that take 65 percent of our exports.

As talks near conclusion, Canada must act quickly to secure comprehensive and equal market access to TPP countries. It’s an historic opportunity that is more important than any country’s domestic political timelines. We cannot miss this critical window of opportunity.

Being left on the sidelines of a trade deal that covers 40 percent of the world’s economic output is not an option. To remain a significant contributor to the economy, Canadian agriculture needs the TPP.


Most of all, Canada needs to be fully engaged in the negotiations to ensure that its exporters attain the same access to markets as exporters from other TPP countries.

The signal is clear. The world is moving toward a future of free trade, and the time is now to take a step forward. Canada must actively champion this or we will lose a once in a generation opportunity.

We owe our farmers, ranchers, producers and exporters the chance to freely compete and grow markets, on an equal footing, with our international competitors.

There is no more time for waiting, and no such thing as the status quo. Now is the time for governments to be bold and stand up for the future of Canadian agriculture.

Brian Innes is chair of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance.


  • Haefen

    Canadians should indeed be engaged and informed about such trade talks. We should also look at how our interests have been served by such trade deals in the past.

    After 150yrs Canada is still a first stage economy dependent on the export of natural resources, often raw, by industries dominated by foreign interests and ownership. Our many international trade deals have not changed that and it does not look like any of the many deals we are currently working on will change that either.

    Which is fine if Canadians want no more than to be drawers of water, hewers of wood, exporting increasingly valuable raw resources to fuel other advanced economies. It is a discussion Canadians should be having and one many do not want us to have.

  • ed

    Unfortunately these trade deals turn our farmers into slave labor, covertly exports much of our raw resources via these agricultural commodities and makes a few people rich, namely and mainly foreign multinational corporations, (some family run), and as pointed out it is totally facilitated by exports, most well below the cost of production it should be added. If you get the price of commodities low enough, you can to your nations overall peril increase trade. A puzzle is not complete when missing many of the pieces. Building economies off the backs of farmers is more old than it is bold. Brian is correct that it is time to stand up. Just not the, ‘trade at any cost’ status quo way that he is suggesting. He may be too young or brain washed to know any better however. These are the things that Canadians should be talking about, but governments with companies whispering in their ears wouldn’t want that discussion, so status quo it will be. Someone will be there, you can be sure, by their sides to steady the pen while they sign this thing. Life goes on.

  • Alberto13646

    And not a whisper about the dairy & poultry sector hostage takers.

    • ed

      The only sectors not constantly having bankruptcy auction sales. Not as good for the auction sale companies however I suppose.

  • Trent

    Dear Brian,

    I’d like to know how much poultry the US imports from Brazil?
    Also, what are the conditions for importing meat into Australia and New Zealand? Are there different regulations for different kinds of meats?
    What EXACTLY are the negotiated terms and conditions of the TPP? Where can producers read EXACTLY what is being proposed?
    BIg buisness or family business – which is more important to keeping our domestic economy operating?
    Even though there are provisions in Canada for TRQ – when, and how much revenue is collected from imports that exceed existing provisions of TRQ?
    How are changes made to the TPP, and how often are the terms and conditions reviewed? When and how can a participating country exit the agreement?
    Currently, what percentage of your household income do you spend on food and other necessities? Are you prepared and willing to spend more?
    How will the TPP impact our current levels of food safety in Canada?
    Do you think the 5 banks that are being investigated of manipulation of the global economy in 2007, are in any way different than the TPP?
    What is the quantity of poultry and dairy does Canada currently import and how does this compare to other TPP countries?
    Will the TPP over-ride any existing import regulations that currently exist – including religious (ie Halal)?
    Did you know Canada is the 5th largest exporter of agri- food commodities in the world and the 6th largest importer?
    Did you know that on a per-capita basis, Canada is THE LARGEST

  • Daniel

    If Canada was to feed their own ppl including the homeless there wouldn’t be much left over to export. Tpp is only beneficial to the politicians.