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Canada joins TPP talks, puts farm protection on the table

Wednesday 10th October 2012

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Canada's heavily protected markets, which have been a barrier to New Zealand's agricultural exports, face an overhaul after the North American nation formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.

Standing in for Trade Minister Ed Fast, Canada's Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore said his country has formally joined the negotiations, which seek to bring down trade barriers and align regulatory settings. Canada joins Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam in the formal negotiations, with the next round to be held in Auckland in December.

"Opening new markets and increasing Canadian exports to fast-growing markets throughout the Asia-Pacific region is a key part of our government's plan to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity," Moore said. "The region is a priority market for Canadian businesses, offering enormous opportunities to our exporters."

The TPP negotiations, which grew from New Zealand's P4 deal with Chile, Brunei and Singapore, have been widely opposed by anti-globalisation activists and academics over intellectual property demands made by the US and provisions that would let companies sue governments if policy decisions erode their profits.

Canada and Mexico were invited to join the TPP talks in June, adding momentum to the negotiations, as the US pursues opportunities to consolidate its trade presence in the region. Japan is also considering joining the talks, and is seen as a lynchpin in giving the TPP global heft.

In submissions to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the inclusion of Canada, Mexico and Japan, Business New Zealand said Canada was the most problematic and should be given the lowest priority.

Canada's supply management was "particularly egregious, imposing tariffs as high as 250 percent to 300 percent on dairy exports and imposing quotas on beef exports," the business lobby group said.

New Zealand exported $576 million of goods to Canada in the year ended Aug. 31, accounting for about 1.2 percent of the country's total exports.

In a submission to MFAT, Canadian High Commissioner to New Zealand Caroline Chretien said her nation was moving to liberalise trade and free up markets as it ramped up its own bilateral free trade deals. The country's inclusion would also give New Zealand greater access to the North American regional free trade block, she said.

"Canada's membership in the TPP would maximise and leverage efforts by New Zealand companies to participate in North America's integrated global value chains, as Canada and the United States largely operate as an integrated market with many industries spanning the border," she said.

"New Zealand exporters of intermediate goods would be disadvantaged if they do not have preferential access to the supply chains that cross the Canada-US border."

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