Saskatchewan presses case for TPP trade deal

Trade minister touts "significant benefits" to agriculture, manufacturing and forestry sectors.

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government is urging Ottawa to press ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart and Trade Minister Jeremy Harrison met Jan. 21 with David Lametti, parliamentary secretary to the minister of international trade, as part of consultations on the deal, which is also known as TPP.

Harrison said TPP could have “significant benefits” for agriculture, especially for canola, beef and pork production. Manufacturing and forestry sectors would also see a boost, he said.

There would be a big downside if Canada were not part of the agreement, he suggested.

“If we’re not a part of this agreement, it’s not just that the status quo continues, it means that all those who are, have a huge advantage competitively,” Harrison said at the legislature.

“We think that we need to be a part of this agreement. We need to be a signatory and we need to ratify the agreement … and be a part of this new trading relationship.”

Stewart said the implications are huge for the agriculture sector.

For example, Saskatchewan ranchers would face a 38.5% tariff on beef going into Japan if Canada were not part of TPP. Competitors, including the United States and Australia, are moving toward a nine per cent tariff as parties to the deal.

“The opportunities are huge if the deal is signed and the downside is also very dramatic if we’re left out and other parties to TPP are included that compete with us,” said Stewart.

“The downside is that we would be virtually locked out of major markets like Japan.”

The treaty, negotiated by the previous Conservative government during last fall’s election campaign, involves 12 countries around the Pacific Rim that make up 40 per cent of the global economy.

The Liberal government hasn’t announced whether it will attend the formal signing Feb. 4 in Auckland, N.Z.

“We view signing as really a technical step,” said Lametti.

“Our focus is on the consultative process, on really illuminating every single corner of the agreement, and then making a decision whether it puts Canadians in a better or worse situation as a whole.”

All countries have two years to ratify the deal, but the treaty comes into force if the US, Japan and four other countries give their approval.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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