Canada and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Entering a New Era of Strategic Trade Policy

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement currently under negotiation will secure a trade alliance between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. These countries have a combined economy (GDP) of over $27 trillion, comprising nearly 35 percent of global GDP and about one third of global trade.

This ambitious, next-generation trade agreement will be Canada's first foothold into prosperous Asian markets and will provide an opportunity for Canada to address outstanding issues with its two NAFTA partners. To date, the WTO has been the most significant and promising forum for multilateral trade liberalization, but negotiations have stalled and they are not likely to pick up momentum in the near future. As such, TPP membership is likely to broaden to include other countries seeking to liberalize trade relationships, such as the Philippines and South Korea. The prospect of China joining the negotiations in the short term is uncertain, but the country?s expression of interest underscores why the TPP is important: it has the potential to expand to include all Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries. For countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the main draw of the TPP is preferential access to the United States. The United States' commitment to the TPP as the centrepiece of its foreign trade strategy means that these negotiations may avoid becoming mired in politics and yield a finished agreement within five years.

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