For­get Trump, Trudeau is now the biggest ob­sta­cle to Pa­cific trade deal

The Miracle - - Politics - http://business.fi­nan­cial­post.com

While Japan in par­tic­u­lar wants a quick deal on the pact that Trump aban­doned ear­lier this year, Canada says more talks are needed on con­tentious points. Don­ald Trump is old news: Justin Trudeau is now seen as the biggest ob­sta­cle to seal­ing a ground­break­ing Pa­cific trade agree­ment. Canada’s prime min­is­ter has been crit­i­cized by Australian and Ja­panese me­dia since fail­ing to show for a Nov. 10 sum­mit in Vietnam with the other 10 lead­ers of coun­tries still in­volved in the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship. While Japan in par­tic­u­lar wants a quick deal on the pact that Trump aban­doned ear­lier this year, Canada says more talks are needed on con­tentious points. Canada saw the frame­work agree­ment an­nounced in the city of Danang as a sort of path­way for fur­ther talks and not a ten­ta­tive deal, ac­cord­ing to a Cana­dian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied. Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment sees Japan and Aus­tralia pres­sur­ing Canada in a bid to pre­vent smaller economies like Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei from push­ing for more changes, the of­fi­cial said. Canada and Mex­ico cold to U.S. us­ing TPP to make progress in NAFTA The bick­er­ing threat­ens to fur­ther de­lay a deal in the works for about a decade that was orig­i­nally seen as a guar­an­tee of U.S. en­gage­ment with Asia and a buf­fer against China’s ris­ing clout. After Trump’s exit, Japan has led a push to com­plete the deal, agree­ing with the other mem­bers to sus­pend 20 sec­tions of the pact partly on the hope that the U.S. will re­join one day. Japan wants an agree­ment as soon as pos­si­ble, and may look to move ahead with­out Canada if nec­es­sary, the Sankei news­pa­per re­ported this week, cit­ing an uniden­ti­fied ne­go­tia­tor. In an in­ter­view with Bloomberg last week, Econ­omy Min­is­ter Toshim­itsu Motegi urged the re­main­ing mem­bers to sign up be­fore some of them face elec­tions next year.

FRENCH SPEAK­ERS

Canada is look­ing to strengthen a cul­tural ex­emp­tion in the agree­ment that will al­low Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment to, in part, sup­port lan­guage rights of the French-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion, a key part of his voter base. The move sug­gests the Trudeau gov­ern­ment wants the free­dom to sub­si­dize and in­cen­tivize French-lan­guage and other pro­gram­ming, par­tic­u­larly dig­i­tal and on­line Cana­dian con­tent, with­out fear of a trade chal­lenge. Trudeau in­her­ited the TPP from pre­de­ces­sor Stephen Harper and has al­ways stopped short of full-throated sup­port for the pact. He’s sig­nalled Canada won’t be rushed into a TPP deal, and his gov­ern­ment is al­most en­tirely pre­oc­cu­pied by on­go­ing NAFTA talks with the U.S. and Mex­ico. The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said there’s a fear that al­low­ing the cur­rent TPP word­ing on cul­tural ex­emp­tions will com­pli­cate NAFTA talks fur­ther — par­tic­u­larly as Trump threat­ens to with­draw, as he did with the TPP. The Sankei ar­ti­cle in­di­cated that other coun­tries in­clud­ing Japan wouldn’t sup­port changing the cul­tural ex­emp­tion — a point that Deputy Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Ko­taro Nogami dis­puted on Tues­day.

‘GOBSMACKED’

“The pro­posal has not been re­jected at this point,” Nogami said. “We agreed at Danang that the 11 coun­tries should put the TPP into ef­fect, and we are not dis­cussing sign­ing it with­out one par­tic­u­lar coun­try.” Australian Trade Min­is­ter Steve Ciobo ear­lier this month called Trudeau’s non-ap­pear­ance at the Vietnam TPP sum­mit a “dis­ap­point­ing de­vel­op­ment.” That may have cost Canada a chance at be­ing in­cluded in the East Asia Sum­mit, an 18-na­tion group that cov­ers eco­nomic and se­cu­rity af­fairs in the re­gion, the Australian Fi­nan­cial Re­view re­ported on Nov. 16. “Sure, if you were wor­ried about NAFTA and other do­mes­tic issues, flag it dur­ing the process,” the re­port quoted a se­nior of­fi­cial as say­ing. It added that “del­e­ga­tions and lead­ers were gobsmacked at their be­hav­iour.” – With as­sis­tance from Ja­son Scott

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