TPP signed on high. Get ready for ugly politicking down low

Any of you not looking forward to most of a year of endless, ugly U.S. presidential and congressional politics might also have to avert your eyes from the Trans Pacific Partnership issue.

The deal was signed in Aukland, New Zealand last night and the proponents are delighted. I chatted with the Canola Council of Canada’s Brian Innes, who was there for the event, and he sounded relieved and happy to have the agreement finalized. Western Canada is massively dependant on exporting its goods, such as crops, meats and food products, so for most Prairie farmers, TPP is a very good thing.

But it’s a long way from being a really done deal. It’s not a real deal until at least six of the 12 signing countries, representing 85 percent of the bloc’s population, ratify it. Canada could be one of those, or not, but countries with massive populations like Japan and the U.S. need to approve it to get it done.

That throws TPP into the roiling cauldron of domestic politics in a dozen nations, and this year just has to be an election year in the U.S., doesn’t it? That could create some caustic politics around the TPP, so you might be hearing a lot about it for at least the next year.

There will be a lingering question mark hanging over the issue until it’s done – one way or the other – so expect a lot of back-and-forth about whether it will actually become operative.

It’ll be an uncomfortable time, at least for the industries powerfully affected by the result. I expect to cover a lot of that discomfort and concern for the next couple of years.

But today I expect to see some happy faces and relief. I’m in the midst of covering the Manitoba Swine Seminar, which brings in hundreds of serious hog producers, and the news that the TPP is one step closer to reality should delight them. It’s been a decent couple of years for the industry, allowing it to rebuild balance sheets from bad years created by financial crisis, industry crisis and American politics (COOL), so it deserves some good news.

So enjoy today, then get ready to worry about TPP for another couple of years.


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