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Canada trade minister pushes quick ratification of trade deal with Asia Pacific
[OTTAWA] Canada's trade minister on Monday signalled that the government will push ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership quickly through parliament, as stalled North American free trade talks have raised concerns it could lose its privileged access to the US market.
"Rapid ratification of the TPP" will mean "farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs and workers across the country can finally tap into new markets," trade minister Jim Carr said in a speech to parliament.
Signed in March without the United States, the Trans-Pacific Partnership will come into effect 60 days after ratification by at least six of the 11 signatories - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The trading bloc represents 500 million consumers and 13 percent of the world's economic output.
Ottawa wants to be among the first six TPP signatories, but is facing pushback from the powerful union representing Canadian auto workers. Unifor wants stricter labour standards written into the pact and for negotiations with the United States and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement completed first.
High-level talks ended last week with no deal, and no date has been set yet for Canada's foreign minister Chrystia Freeland to return to Washington to continue negotiations.
For Canada, implementing the TPP is "of paramount importance," said Mr Carr, if only to act as a counterbalance to growing US protectionism under US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to cut Canada out of a new continental trade deal if Ottawa didn't give in to his demands.
"This is not just a new trade agreement for Canada, it is also a message we send to the rest of the world: trade is important, the rules are important and we will not give in to protectionism," the minister said.