Feds seek­ing changes to pos­si­ble re­vived TPP

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - NATIONAL NEWS - ANDY BLATCHFORD

OT­TAWA — Cana­dian ne­go­tia­tors are push­ing for three key changes to the orig­i­nal Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship as lead­ers of the re­main­ing coun­tries in­ter­ested in re­viv­ing the con­tro­ver­sial treaty pre­pare to meet this week.

A se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial says Ot­tawa’s ne­go­ti­at­ing team is seek­ing mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the orig­i­nal TPP deal in many ar­eas — but pri­mar­ily in the in­tel­lec­tual-prop­erty pro­vi­sions, its ap­proach on cul­tural ex­emp­tions and Canada’s sup­ply man­age­ment sys­tem for dairy, poul­try and eggs.

The 11 re­main­ing TPP economies have moved ahead with talks in re­cent months in an ef­fort to res­ur­rect the Pa­cific Rim deal af­ter U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with­drew ear­lier this year.

The pact is ex­pected to be a cen­tral topic this week in Da Nang, Viet­nam, at a meet­ing of lead­ers from the Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion bloc, which will in­clude Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau and the other 10 TPP lead­ers.

Dur­ing his week-long visit to Asia, Trudeau will also hold an of­fi­cial visit with Viet­namese Pres­i­dent Tran Dai Quang and travel to the Philip­pines to at­tend the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions sum­mit in Manila.

On TPP, International Trade Min­is­ter Fran­cois-Philippe Cham­pagne told The Cana­dian Press he wants a bet­ter deal be­fore he signs a re­vamped ver­sion of the deal.

Ne­go­tia­tors, he said, will be seek­ing the suspension of some pro­vi­sions that were part of the orig­i­nal agree­ment.

Cham­pagne also said Canada has been pur­su­ing im­prove­ments to the TPP, which was ne­go­ti­ated by the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment, through side let­ters and pos­si­ble work pro­grams with Ja­pan.

He did not get into specifics on which parts of the deal he would like to see changed.

Cham­pagne, who will also par­tic­i­pate in APEC meet­ings this week in Viet­nam, did say Canada is push­ing for the re­vised pact to con­tain “pro­gres­sive” chap­ters on the en­vi­ron­ment, labour and gen­der equal­ity. He added that New Zealand’s new gov­ern­ment is also look­ing at a sim­i­lar ap­proach.

“We’ve been try­ing to stay at the ta­ble mak­ing sure that we push the pro­gres­sive el­e­ments, try to get a bet­ter deal for Cana­di­ans and then bring it back home,” he said.

“It’s re­ally about mak­ing sure we un­der­stand the non­tar­iff trade bar­ri­ers and that we ad­dress them.”

The orig­i­nal TPP in­cluded con­tentious pro­vi­sions that an­gered some sec­tors in Canada, in­clud­ing the dairy and high-tech in­dus­tries.

For ex­am­ple, Ot­tawa was forced to ta­ble a multi­bil­lion­dol­lar com­pen­sa­tion pack­age for farm­ers be­cause the deal would have raised the amount of for­eign dairy en­ter­ing Canada by 3.25 per cent.

Canada’s tech sec­tor has also warned TPP’s orig­i­nal in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rules would have favoured the more dom­i­nant U.S. and its firms, which have al­ready amassed a far big­ger port­fo­lio of patents, copy­rights and trade­marks.

In­tel­lec­tual prop­erty is viewed by many as a cru­cial com­po­nent of the ex­pand­ing — and in­creas­ingly im­por­tant — knowl­edge-based econ­omy.

On cul­tural ex­emp­tions, the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity ahead of the meet­ings, said Ot­tawa is seek­ing stronger com­mit­ments.

For ex­am­ple, the of­fi­cial said the orig­i­nal TPP’s cul­tural ex­emp­tions are chap­ter by chap­ter as op­posed to the more-global ap­proach in the cur­rent North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, which is pre­ferred by the sec­tor.

Over­all, the of­fi­cial said Ot­tawa’s pri­or­ity is pre­serv­ing mar­ket ac­cess, but that it’s work­ing to find ways to make it a bet­ter deal.

Ne­go­tia­tors from the 11 TPP economies, which are all mem­bers of APEC, have al­ready be­gun talks in Viet­nam. There are ex­pec­ta­tions the lead­ers could have some­thing to an­nounce re­lated to the deal later in the week.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

International Trade Min­is­ter Fran­cois-Philippe Cham­pagne in Ot­tawa in Jan­uary.

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