TPP an economic opportunity, not a guarantee

Success will come from entrepreneurial smarts plus the competitiveness of our products and services.

October 26, 2015   Constantine Passaris

The recent announcement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade deal is one more confirmation of the importance of international trade for Canada and I anticipate that the new Liberal government of Justin Trudeau will endorse it. But it’s important to realize the TPP is simply an economic opportunity. It’s not a guarantee of economic success.

It was international trade in 1497 that started the economic heartbeat of the landmass that would become Canada. And international trade has nurtured Canada as one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

International trade is an important contributor to Canada’s economic growth, business vitality, employment creation and the standard of living of its citizens. Canada’s domestic population is far too small by itself to sustain the standard of living to which we have become accustomed. International trade is the trump card that helps us create a larger market, through exporting and outreach.

The TPP consists of 12 countries: Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Australia, Peru and Malaysia. It embraces the biggest trade zone in the world, spanning four continents and representing 40 per cent of the world’s economy. With a combined population of 800 million people, it weighs in as an economic heavyweight in the world economy.


The trade deal changes regulations and reduces trade barriers across a swathe of products and services. That list includes everything from machines to canola, beef and pork, minerals, forest products, sugar confectionary, chocolates and seafood. Most agricultural and agri-food products are also on the list, including potato products, maple sugar and syrup, and baked goods. It allows up to 3.25% more international dairy into Canada, and allows foreign auto parts into North America without tariffs. It also creates new rules for the digital economy and restricts governments’ right to shut off data flows.

As with all free trade deals, there are domestic winners and losers. There’s no denying that Canada is vulnerable through its dairy industry and the auto parts industry will be exposed to more intense competition from abroad. It’s the vision and smarts of entrepreneurs, plus the competitiveness of our products and services in terms of price and quality that will transform the TPP opportunity into success.

Canada has a unique competitive advantage. Its multicultural profile is a tremendous asset. We can speak the languages of the Pacific Rim, build bridges to new export destinations, attract foreign investment and avoid missteps in a positive alignment with local religions, cultural customs and business etiquette.
In addition, Canadian exports will be granted unrestricted and preferential access to the EU domestic markets once the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is ratified.

These trade agreements offer the potential accelerate the momentum of economic growth and job creation for those who embrace the opportunities they present.

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