Opinion: Trade deal would be a boost for B.C., Canada

July 21, 2015

By: Vancouver Sun

With summer on us, things are heating up and it’s not only the weather.

One thing that would be nice to keep from becoming overheated is the rhetoric around the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade deal comprised of 12 Asia-Pacific nations, including Canada, the U.S. and Japan. The TPP has been in the news recently, and when it comes to this agreement, Canada can’t afford to be left behind.

As Canada negotiates with the other 11 countries, it is fair and necessary to expect everything to be on the table for discussion. There can be no sacred cows.

There is no doubt the Canadian government will strive for a deal in our best interest that looks to generate everything we want while surrendering as little as possible, but the true test of a successful agreement is whether it makes the whole economy stronger.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce is realistic that negotiations are about give and take and that could mean supply management, log exports, or any other B.C. and Canadian interest could be offered for the greater benefit of all B.C. and Canadian businesses. If moving on one of our interests yields us a better deal on accessing something such as procurement contracts in the U.S. or Japan, it is incumbent on government to make the decision in the broader interest rather than protect vested interests or specific sectors.

So why does the TPP matter to B.C. and Canada to the point that we should consider sacrificing supply management or allow more log exports?

The TPP represents a total population of almost 800 million people and a combined GDP of $27.5 trillion, which represents nearly 40 per cent of global GDP and about 33 per cent of all world trade. The TPP could provide annual income gains of $9.9 billion and increase our exports by $15.7 billion. This means more jobs and income in B.C. and all across Canada.

With this kind of economic benefit nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of reaching an agreement.

If Canada misses out on TPP, we will be at the back of the pack when it comes to access to the fastest growing region on the planet. All our major competitors, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the E.U., are all working hard to build economic ties across Asia.

Canada can’t afford to be sitting on the sidelines as others build economic bridges throughout the Asia-Pacific.

As Canada’s only Pacific province, B.C. businesses and residents stand to benefit significantly from this shift in focus.

In addition to access, the TPP represents a new type of agreement.

From market access for goods, services/investments, financial services, government procurement, temporary entry and labour, the TPP will set the standard of a 21st century comprehensive agreement

A comprehensive agreement that provides duty-free access to goods markets across TPP members, while looking to remove restrictions on services, investments, financial services, temporary entry and government procurement, will bring huge economic benefits across the B.C. economy.

Whether its forestry in the Central Interior, mining in the Kootenays, oil and gas in the Peace region, agriculture and agri-food in the Okanagan and Fraser Valley, or seafood and shellfish on the Island, B.C. businesses stand to benefit by having their products gain access to TPP markets duty-free.

Beyond goods movement, B.C.’s engineering services, mining services, forestry services and financial services in urban centres such as Metro Vancouver are all world-class that just need that last element of certainty that businesses look for when deciding to invest abroad.

It is important Canada be in front of potential multilateral trade discussions, especially those involving the emerging markets of Asia. The TPP is the vehicle that allows Canada to shape the rules around investment, rules of origin and other regulatory barriers to doing business.

The B.C. Chamber supports being part of the TPP and the potential economic benefit and jobs a final agreement would bring our members in B.C. and business across Canada.

 

 

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