Canada could become one of the first six nations to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership because the federal government has tabled the full text of the treaty.
International Trade Minister Philippe Champagne tabled the agreement, formerly known as the TPP, in the House of Commons this week.
“We’ve taken a historic step closer to having competitive access to Asia-Pacific markets,” Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, said in a statement.
“It’s critical that we keep up the momentum so that Canada is not left behind by the first six countries who implement the CPTPP.”
Canada and the 10 other Pacific nations in the CPTPP signed the agreement in Chile this March.
Tabling the text is the first step for parliament to ratify the trade deal. The process will also require legislation to be tabled and then passed by the House of Commons and the Senate.
The deal will come into effect 60 days after six countries ratify the agreement.
But only for those six nations.
If Canada is not among the first six to formally approve the deal, other countries will enjoy lower tariffs and the benefits of CPTPP before Canadian exporters. Plus, they’ll have the advantage of establishing new business relationships in key markets like Japan.
Members of CAFTA, including pork, canola, wheat and beef exporters, were worried the federal government was moving too slowly on ratifying CPTPP.
So the tabling of the text came as relief.
“Asian markets are the key to agri-food growth. Implementing the CPTPP is essential for industry to meet government’s target of $75 billion in
agri-food exports by 2025,” said Innes, vice-president of public affairs for the Canola Council of Canada.
The agreement will reduce Japan’s import tariffs on a list of agricultural commodities and should increase Canadian exports to Japan.
For example, Japan imposes a tariff on Canadian beef of 38.5 percent, or in some cases 50 percent. In the first year of the CPTPP, that tariff would drop to 27.5 percent and eventually sink to nine percent.
Estimates suggest that the tariff reduction could boost Canadian beef sales in Japan by $200 million annually, in the short term.
“This is probably the most significant trade deal since NAFTA,” said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
Claire Citeau, CAFTA executive director, expects that six countries will ratify CPTPP by the end of 2018 or early in 2019.