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Why is Canada Giving a Cold Shoulder to an Asian Trade Deal?

Posted November 23, 2017

Under Economic Issues, International Trade Issues

(John Manley via Globe & Mail)

What a difference a year makes. Just over a year ago, as I was returning from Europe, I wrote to praise the Trudeau government’s success in saving a Stephen Harper legacy – the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Led by then-trade minister Chrystia Freeland, Canada gave a little here and a little there from the agreement that had been negotiated. By dint of Ms. Freeland’s intelligence, perseverance and personality, an important part of our trade infrastructure came into being. At the time, we didn’t know how important it was, as the North American free-trade agreement had not yet come under sustained U.S. attack. A major advantage of CETA is that it gives Canadian companies an edge over their U.S. competitors in the European market. Plus, it contributes to Canada’s trade diversification, thereby reducing our reliance on the United States.

Now I am returning from Japan and wondering whether Canada still believes in the principles that made CETA so important. In the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Vietnam, Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne didn’t give a little here and there as his predecessor had done. Instead he asked for more – and to the surprise of many observers, he achieved all of his objectives. Click here to read more.