TPP deal remains elusive

Canadian farm groups left trade talks in Vietnam with mixed emotions last week.

On the one hand, they were disappointed that the 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership were unable to reach an agreement in principle.

On the other hand, they were encouraged by the progress that was made on the potential TPP11 pact.

The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance issued a news release Nov. 10 saying it was disappointed by the lack of a deal.

“We will continue to press our federal government to achieve an agreement at the earliest possible opportunity. We need this deal in order to remain globally competitive,” CAFTA president Brian Innes said in the news release.

“It’s crucial that we get back on track with this one and do it quickly. Not doing so will be extremely costly, losing opportunity overseas and economic growth and jobs here at home.”

CAFTA said Japan is Canada’s third largest agri-food market, and competitors, including the European Union, Australia and Chile, have already locked down free trade deals with the Asian nation.

A day after its initial reaction, CAFTA put out news release that were more upbeat.

“It’s encouraging that progress is being made towards a new agreement,” Innes said in the Nov. 11 release.

“We’re pleased that the new framework keeps the gains of the former TPP agreement intact, particularly the market access provisions.”

The Canadian Meat Council was not happy that negotiators left Vietnam without an agreement in principle.

It issued a news release saying the failure to come to terms puts $1.7 billion of Canada’s meat exports in jeopardy as well as another $500 million in projected export increases to Japan.

“The lack of a TPP11 deal could spell disaster for the meat packing and processing sector in Canada,” the release said.

The Canola Council of Canada said the lack of a deal puts $1.2 billion of annual canola seed exports at risk and jeopardizes the potential for $780 million a year in oil and meal exports once tariffs are fully eliminated over five years under the TPP11 terms.

CAFTA remains hopeful a deal can still be reached.

“We’re grateful the dedicated negotiating team led by Trade Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne has gotten us this far,” said Innes.“But we’re not there yet. Let’s keep the momentum going.”

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