What is Canada’s Role in Saving the Global Trading System?

So when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
touched down in Vietnam for the 2017 APEC meeting He was in rock star mode Owning the red carpet rubbing elbows with world leaders and chilling out with residents at the local coffee shop Hello everyone thank you all for being here PM Trudeau was also set to meet in Vietnam with ten other leaders to finalize the new Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP for short A big trade deal involving several Pacific Rim economies But when the leaders and their trade ministers gathered One country was missing Uhhh… Canada? Hello? Where are you? The backlash was immediate with international media outlets labeling Canada a saboteur of the agreement Prime Minister Trudeau and his International Trade Minister were quick to respond on the twitterverse But their partners were confused While some in Canada saw what went down in Vietnam as a disasters PR fiasco Others viewed it as the Canadian government taking advantage of an opportunity to assert its new progressive trade agenda in Asia So PR mistake? Or political maneuver? Which was it? In this episode of Gateway We are resurrecting the TPP Learning just what the TPP is? How its evolved? And, what that all means for Canada? At its simplest the TPP is a regional free trade agreement or FTA Now when we say free trade those words shouldn’t be taken literally What we’re really meaning here is the reduction of barriers to make it easier for goods services capital and people to move across borders Now what makes the TPP unique is that it was billed as an agreement for the 21st century It’s an agreement that reflects the way in which commerce is done today as compared to more traditional agreements That’s Don Campbell One of APF Canada’s distinguished fellows A former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs And one of Canada’s architects of the original NAFTA Suffice to say Don knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the TPP It has the traditional elements of reduction and elimination of tariffs issues on trade in goods it also has rules governing trade in services it has an anti-corruption chapter it deals with e-commerce digital trade And, there’s a whole array of dispute settlement mechanisms which are a feature of any agreement The concept of the original TPP first emerged from an agreement signed in 2005 by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore called the P4 However it was only three years after when the U.S. agreed to start talks with the P4 group that the original TPP began to take shape You could say that the U.S. getting involved was a tipping point and soon other nations were joining in Canada was a little late to the game But eventually it joined due to a serious case of FOMO at that time the Canadian government One really wanted to update NAFTA and two really wanted access to the Japanese market the world’s third-largest economy The twelve member economies of the original TPP had a combined GDP totaling US$28 trillion dollars or nearly 40% of the global economy The U.S. and Japan well they made up most of the economic heft of the group This is important because for the trade pact to enter force or basically become a reality it required six members with a combined total of 85% of the group’s GDP to ratify the agreement All right we’re gonna sign three memorandums right now The first one is withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Everyone knows what that means right? We’ve been talking about this for a long time Thank you So when President Trump fulfilled his election promise of removing the U.S. from the agreement it effectively killed this iteration of the TPP Okay A great thing for the American worker what we just did You should know that Canadians were divided on the agreement as well Results from an APF Canada survey in 2015 showed that 41 percent of Canadians supported the agreement and 38% opposed it The U.S. withdrawal caused an existential crisis for the TPP So when leaders of the remaining countries
came together and held hands in unity in the figurative sense they breathed life back into the agreement This reincarnated version of the TPP came with a new spiffy name They called it the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Or CPTPP And although no politician in Ottawa would admit it publicly the demise of the TPP may have been a good thing Why? With America’s departure Canada is one of the CPTPP members that gains the most economically due to the diversion of trade away from our neighbors from the south Also the redux trade pact gave Ottawa an opportunity to both ease some of the fears that the Canadian public had surrounding the original agreement But also insert its new progressive trade agenda into the deal And what is it that makes it progressive well there are various elements I don’t think anybody has ever fully defined a progressive agreement But the idea is that it would it would be more inclusive than so-called traditional agreements That it would deal with the concerns of the middle class That’s Hugh Stephens Another APF Canada Distinguished Fellow Hughes has worked as both a Canadian
diplomat in Asia and as a Senior Vice-President of Time Warner in Asia Let’s just say he has a lot of street cred when it comes to trade issues Labor and environment are important parts of the progressive agenda but other areas have been added in it would seem gender equality, indigenous rights, even governance So it’s a bit of a loose definition and frankly I think some of Canada’s trading partners are a little bit puzzled as to exactly what it means That brings us back to the Vietnam incident where Canada’s last minute no-show actually end up working in our favour In the final text the CPTPP not only suspended some of the more
sensitive provisions such as related to investor-state dispute settlement and intellectual property rights But also has a new preamble that recognizes environmental protection gender equality and labor and Indigenous rights All aspects of our prime minister’s progressive trade agenda As for PM Trudeau it looks like he was able to get what he wanted and he announced the conclusion of the deal at the World Economic Forum in Davos Today, I’m pleased to announce that Canada and ten other remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Concluded discussions in Tokyo, Japan on a new comprehensive and progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership The CPTPP And now that the dust has settled we have to ask Was not showing up at the meeting in Vietnam a calculated risk that paid off? Or did it really set back our relations with the other members? While Japan seemed confused Australia threatened to boycott Canada’s admission to the East Asian Summit An important regional forum we’ve been trying to join for over a decade In the end that all seems to have just been some posturing It’s clear that the CPTPP is a big thing for Canada and now that it’s signed it will take six members to ratify the agreement in order to bring it into force And despite all the drama in Vietnam the CPTPP is happening Canadians need to know what that means for Canada and how it will impact us all Don, sums this up really well Well I think that the agreement has been a you know, I think it’s a very important moment in in Canada’s role internationally It’s an affirmation that Canada recognizes the Asia region as an important part of our economic and our social well being and our participation in it does that and I think the effects of the agreement are much broader than the agreement itself The awareness that we are are a full participant with a significant number of countries in the Asia Pacific I think will signal well and rebound in terms of the way Canadians look at the world Thanks for watching our video on Resurrecting the TPP We like to thank all those people listed who made this video possible For more resources related to this video check out the description below and to learn more about Canada Asian relations
and engagement please visit the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s website or follow us on twitter So it now looks like president Trump wants to rejoin the TPP What do you think about that? Comment below and let us know

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