As other countries forge ahead with the new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Foothills MP John Barlow says he’s shocked the Liberal government has failed to make any headway on the topic.

“That’s very discouraging,” he says.  

The Conservative Party incumbent says the government has stalled negotiations, unlike other countries, such as Australia and Japan that have gone ahead despite Canada’s absence.

“The TPP should be a top priority for the government, especially with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on such shaky ground. Should we lose NAFTA, we need to have that other market and that’s a very strong opportunity with TPP.”

As talks between representatives from NAFTA affiliated countries continue in Washington, D.C., President Donald Trump’s previous deceleration to pull out of the agreement has left countries scrambling to make a deal before he potentially makes good on his promise.

Barlow says Canada’s involvement in the TPP will not only boost the country’s trade capacity by opening routes to new and larger markets, it can also be used as a leverage in NAFTA talks.

“(The TPP) gives us one of the biggest global economic markets in the world to sell our product and we can take that back to the negotiations,” he adds.

Now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), following the United States withdrawal in January of last year, the new TPP agreement is signed by 11 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Mexico.

“It’s clearly more beneficial to Canada to be part of it now that the US has withdrawn because of the new market access that is there,” Barlow says, noting experts in trade and investment at the Canada West Foundation (CWF) have clearly stated the benefits of a TPP agreement without the Americans.

Naomi Christensen, a senior policy analyst at the foundation, wrote in an article published on the CWF’s website in August of last year that the TPP is as much about securing new markets as it is solidifying Canada’s longstanding relationship with Japan, the world’s third largest economy.

“Canada’s agriculture and commodity exporters will actually fare better in a (TPP) without the U.S,” she wrote. “In Japan in particular, we will have an advantage over our U.S. competitors and finally be on a level playing field with other competitors like Australia and Chile.”

Barlow says the Liberal’s needs refocus its attention on the TPP.

In the meantime, Canada and the U.S. head back to the bargaining table Monday, January 22 in Montreal as they start the sixth round of NAFTA renegotiation talks.


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