The Vancouver Board of Trade is hailing the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, saying it promises to further deepen B.C.’s trade ties in the dynamic and fast growing Asia-Pacific region.
President Iain Black says the deal will reduce regulatory barriers on B.C. exports such as wood and forestry products, metals and minerals, and fruit and seafood.
“We will probably have to expand the port capabilities, especially the agricultural and agrifood production increases that we can expect to see leaving our country, likewise seafood and forestry, the residual and downstream benefits to those involved in our shipping and port facilities will be enormous.”
Black says the sectors to benefit the most are seafood, forestry, and agrifood, with tariffs either disappearing upon implementation of the deal, or within the first few years.
He says B.C.’s merchandise exports to TPP countries averaged $20.6 billion from 2012 to 2014, despite the presence of many existing trade impediments.
Dairy farmers disappointed
The BC Dairy Association says if Canada allows more foreign dairy into the market, farmers could lose their jobs.
Spokesperson Dave Taylor says the concessions Canada made in the dairy sector — an additional 3.25 per cent of foreign imports — means less production on BC dairy farms.
“We would rather have cows in the barn that are part of our production, that’s benefiting the Canadian economy, instead of going this route, where we are taking cows out of the barn, and putting forth a compensation plan of some sort.”
But Taylor says the compensation plan for farmers facing losses seems fair.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the federal cabinet has already approved a plan to spend $4.3 billion over the next 15 years to protect Canadian farmers.
Deal focuses on 12 countries in Pacific Rim
The full text of the tentative deal has not been released, and must be ratified by the parliaments and governments of all 12 countries to come into effect. The nations cover 40 per cent of the world’s economy and are home to 800 million people:
- United States
- New Zealand
What you need to know about the deal
Elimination or reduction of tariffs on a broad series of products including:
- wines and spirits
- minerals and forestry products
- More foreign car parts begin entering Canada as well, benefiting producers and consumers, but possibly hurting job prospects for auto workers
- Cars will be allowed without tariffs as long as they have 45% content from the TPP region
Dairy, poultry & egg farmers lose protections, gain $2.4 billion in tax breaks:
- Canada’s protected dairy sector remains mostly intact
- Currently, 10% is set aside to allow foreign products in the dairy market
- With the TPP, another 3.25% share of imports would be allowed
- An even smaller rate of imports will be allowed for supply-managed sectors including eggs, chicken and turkey
- Farmers will be compensated for losses under the TPP and the recent Canada-EU deal, through a series of $2.4-billion tax breaks to maintain 100% income protection over 15 years
- Patent protections for next-generation pharmaceuticals would last 8 years, similar to what is now in effect in Canada
Other areas covered by the tentative agreement include maintaining the ‘Buy American’ provisions, which will not change for American state and municipal-level infrastructure projects, and including better labour mobility for some high-skilled and business workers.
More details on the deal can be found on the Government of Canada website, which includes this Fast Facts sheet:
Vancouver Sun’s provincial affairs political columnist Vaughn Palmer spoke with Jon McComb about the deal.
He says he’s not sure the deal will ever be implemented because even though Obama wants it, he’s on his way out, and needs to get it through Congress before the next US election.
“Look, I know we like to think we’re major players on the global stage, but whether this thing stands of falls is probably going to be up to the two main partners, the United States and Japan. If they’re in, I would think whoever is the Canadian government may want to tweak a few details, but Canada is going to want to be in because a third of our GDP depends on trade.”