The Liberal government will sign the TPP on Feb 4, but will not yet ratify the deal.
Despite strong opposition and lists of the dangers, the new Liberal government has decided to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership on February 4 in Auckland, New Zealand, but has stressed that signing does not mean the deal is complete.
“Signing does not equal ratifying,” International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland said on her department’s website, “only a majority vote in our Parliament can allow the agreement to take force. Signing is simply a technical step in the process, allowing the TPP text to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before any final decision is made.”
Although it is true that the agreement must pass parliament to become law, it is expected to pass with Conservative support, despite the Liberal’s claiming to still be neutral on the deal. Freeland stressed that signing the deal only keeps Canada at the bargaining table.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has criticized the Liberal government for signing the deal, as he doubts there will be much debate with a Liberal majority in parliament. Canada has two years to ratify the deal, which still falls within the Liberal term.
Conservative Interim Leader Rona Ambrose says that signing the deal will help Canada’s falling economy and offer “huge opportunities, particularly in the business services sector and the agricultural sector.”
“Signing does not equal ratifying. Only a majority vote in our Parliament can allow the agreement to take force. Signing is simply a technical step in the process, allowing the TPP text to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before any final decision is made.”
~ Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s International Trade Minister
Before losing the election in October, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the deal would be a boon for Canadian farmers. He also said that Canada cannot drop out of the deal, as “there is simply too much to gain for Canada.”
The deal is said to phase out more than 18,000 import tariffs on international trade and open the markets for all nations involved, but the deal has been controversial due to its secrecy and possible damage to Canada’s auto industry. It is said to affect Internet freedom, extend patent protection for pharmaceuticals, lower wages, import unsafe food, and give foreign corporations the ability to sue governments for lost profits.
The Liberal Party campaigned as being “pro free-trade”, but some analysts see the TPP as more a corporate power grab than a trade deal. Jason Kowalski, the Policy Director of the environmental organization 350.org, said that the TPP gives “fossil fuel companies the extraordinary ability to sue local governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground,” which may be a conflict of interests if the Liberals wish to act against climate change.
Economists at Tufts University project that the US and Japan’s GDP will respectively be 0.54% and 0.12% less in ten years than it would have been without the TPP. Canada is projected to only have a 0.28% GDP increase due to the TPP, but a 0.58% decrease in net exports. They also project a total of 771,000 lost jobs between the 12 countries, with the US losing 448,000 and Canada losing 58,000.
The twelve countries involved in the agreement reached an agreement on October 5, but the deal needs to be passed by each country’s respective parliaments before it can be implemented. The agreement can take effect if it is ratified by half of the nations in the deal that represent 85% of the trade zones economy.
Although the deal has not been ratified, critics argue that the Liberals will ratify the bill anyway, stating that it has already been signed and that it would be foolish to back out.