By Barry Ellsworth
Canada and 10 other countries reached an agreement Tuesday on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal many thought dead after the U.S. pulled out of negotiations.
But after two-days of talks in Tokyo, the deal was struck and the countries expect to follow with an official signed agreement by early March.
The agreement comes after Canada made international news when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to agree to the proposed TPP11 – so named because 11 countries are included – at a conference in Vietnam in November.
Trudeau said Canada wanted provisions for environmental and labor rights. The deal includes stronger provisions in those areas.
The TPP underwent a few incarnations before becoming reality in Tokyo.
It was thought dead after the U.S., on the orders of President Donald Trump, pulled out of negotiations a year ago. Trump said the agreement would cost American jobs.
And in Vietnam, a deal was expected to be reached but Trudeau shied away at the last minute.
The importance of the new deal, from Canada’s perspective, is heightened because the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the U.S. and Mexico are contentious. Trump is threatening to kill that deal if provisions favoring Americans, particularly in the auto sector, are not included.
The sixth round of NAFTA negotiations began Tuesday in Montreal.
The TPP, which slashes tariffs on goods imported and exported, gives Canada access to Asian nations – with a total population of 796.7 million people – and the Japan economy is the third largest economy in the world.
The 11 countries have a combined GDP of $12.4 trillion and includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.