Monthly Archives: October 2015

Understanding Canada`s Trade Agenda

There will be no lack of challenges for Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau and his newly elected team in shaping Canada’s trade agenda.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the highest profile.  Though it requires urgent attention, there are other important issues in play.

The Liberal government will have willing and capable helpers in the trade bureaucracy.  Having their advice sought – and considered – is both refreshing and encouraging.  Not to mention the catalytic impact of losing their PMO watchers.

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On TPP, it’s all about the devils we don’t know

For years, informed debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement has been hampered by secrecy, too little detail and too much hype.

The TPP text is undergoing detailed technical work on tariff schedules and legal scrubbing. The definitive text will have 15 side letters. There will be a co-ordinated release when it is ready. That won’t be for weeks.

In other words, Canadian voters won’t know a thing more about this deal when they go to the polls on Monday than they do right now.

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Will the TPP survive Congress?

ATLANTA — The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have led to an agreement. The talks were declared finished and a success by the 12 participating countries after a marathon five-day ministerial meeting in Atlanta.

The final package delivered by the TPP Ministers is very extensive. Amb. Michael Froman, the US Trade Representative, said it is more than just an agreement in principle, and what comes next — the translation and scrubbing — are not negotiations. It is technical work.

The final differences which dogged the ministers in recent weeks and through the final blitz this weekend were addressed with a mix of ingenuity, pragmatism and co-operation.

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Chile and Peru balk at TPP’s treatment of intellectual property

ATLANTA – Japan’s trade minister Akira Amari briefed Japanese press prior to lunch that agreement in principle has been reached the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership.

It would appear that the main reason the TPP remains only an agreement in principle is that Chile and Peru will not permit the intellectual property chapter to be closed. They will not support the U.S.-Australia compromise on biologics reported earlier today.

No further details at this time. We expect a press conference later this afternoon.

Stay tuned….

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TPP talks bogging down, meltdown alert

ATLANTA — The Spinmeisters are once again hoist on their own petards.

What was being spun as done is not – at least not yet. What was supposed to be ready for the big reveal Saturday morning is now on hold. Now it’s ‘maybe tomorrow, maybe not.’

The closing press conference was to be at 4 p.m.. Talks are now scheduled to extend into Sunday, which Japan on reluctantly agreed to. The talks appear to be tracking for another Maui Meltdown.

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TPP all done but for the shouting

ATLANTA — Ministers and negotiators have been working around the clock on the-Trans Pacific Partnership to meet an October 3 target. After more than 20 rounds and five years of almost continuous negotiation, the U.S. and the other 11 countries are preparing to shift into implementation mode.

In Canada, the Harper government is preparing a blitz to deliver the good news — and only the good news — to Canadian voters at a crucial point in the election campaign.

Representatives of big business are heading back to prepare for a celebratory roll out beginning with Perrin Beatty’s press conference on Parliament Hill first thing Monday morning.


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TPP talks land a deal on auto — could a final deal be far behind?

The TPP ministerial meeting in Atlanta has been extended at least until Friday, probably until Saturday. Hope springs eternal and success this week could restore our belief in miracles.

Progress was made Thursday: we now appear to have an agreement on rules-of-origin for the automotive sector — but we don’t know what’s in it, or how much Canada had to give away to get to ‘yes’. So there appear to be fewer worries now that the ministers will fail to get a deal — but it’s not at all clear that the U.S. team can get enough in the package to please Congress. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, in a speech from the Senate floor, has already warned the Obama administration about how high the bar has been set.

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Shake Hands with the Devil

Trade expert Peter Clark is in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is monitoring the talks at the Trans Pacific Partnership Ministerial meeting.

Atlanta, Georgia – Ministers in Atlanta seem determined to close the unending negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement by Saturday this week. The odds are now 60/40 that Ministers will not need to reconvene in November.

There are still important issues to be resolved. Trade negotiations have become increasingly complicated and nothing is concluded until the very last minute. Negotiators must be satisfied that there is nothing else to be extracted.

The Automotive deal is done, or at least essentially done, settling the key outstanding issue. With automotive rules of origin settled, pressure on other players to compromise will intensify.

I expect the other differences will fall like dominoes.

Then what happens?

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