As representatives of 12 Asia-Pacific countries meet in Ottawa this week to continue talks on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Canadian business leaders today emphasized the need to tear down economic barriers that impede growth and job creation across the region.
“Concluding a wide-reaching TPP agreement that removes barriers to trade will give Canadian businesses new opportunities in a $28 trillion market with nearly 800 million customers,” said John Manley, President and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
As Asia’s rapid growth transforms the global economy, it is essential that Canada intensify its commercial engagement in the region. The TPP offers an historic opportunity to improve trade, investment and people-to-people ties across the Asia-Pacific region.
New market opportunities for Canada through the TPP are primarily in those countries where our country does not have existing free trade agreements, namely Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
“Canada has a unique opportunity to become the only nation in the world with preferential trade access to the United States, the European Union and some of the largest economies in Asia. The TPP will position Canadian firms to go where global growth and customer demand are accelerating,” Manley added.
Canada’s business leaders urge TPP members to make the necessary compromises to conclude a high-quality agreement that reflects the following principles:
1. Comprehensive market access for goods and services
The TPP should eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers, including in the agriculture sector.
The services sector is critical to the Canadian economy, representing more than two-thirds of Canadian GDP. The TPP must liberalize services trade with limited exceptions for public services. A priority is comprehensive access in the financial and professional services sectors.
Comprehensive market access requires that rules of origin be clear and simple, reflecting the integrated nature of global supply chains. Simplified TPP rules of origin would boost Canadian trade and reduce prices for consumers.
2. Market transparency
For companies to access foreign markets with different languages, regulations, and legal traditions they need to know the rules of the game. Regulatory and administrative frameworks must be transparent and provide for timely and non-discriminatory enforcement under domestic law.
Transparency requirements should apply to state-owned enterprises (SOEs), many of which receive substantial financial and regulatory benefits from their own governments.
3. Investment promotion
The inclusion of strong investment provisions and the right to enforce these guarantees through investor-state dispute settlement would promote Canadian investment abroad. Such protections would ensure that domestic and foreign investors are treated fairly and provide greater certainty for companies that invest in TPP markets.
As with Canada’s existing bilateral investment agreements, dispute settlement provisions should respect the ability of the state to protect public welfare in areas such as health, safety and the environment.
5. Labour and environment protections
The agreement should uphold labour rights through coordination and dialogue on labour issues and ensure effective means to enhance the mutual supportiveness of trade and the environment. A framework for cooperation among TPP members would strengthen capacity-building and corporate social responsibility.
5. Open to new members
The agreement should include an accession mechanism that allows other countries – such as South Korea, China and Indonesia – to sign on to the TPP provided they meet its requirements. The ultimate objective should be an expanded free trade area that reflects the realities of global value chains and new centres of customer demand for Canadian products.