Dear Prime Minister: The TPP is more important than ever

November 16, 2017
Cheryl Muir

Dear Prime Minister,

The Business Council of British Columbia has advocated since its inception in 1966 for Canada to have the ability to access key foreign markets and strengthen ties with new trading partners. This resulted in our active involvement in the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement and subsequent North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and other recent agreements.

We were concerned with Canada’s initial lack of engagement with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) at its inception in 2005, fearing that our country would be on the outside as this cutting-edge commercial agreement came together. As a small open economy that has growing business and personal linkages with the nations of the Asia-Pacific, Canada has a vital interest in being part of the ongoing economic growth taking place in this dynamic region. We therefore supported the previous government’s decision to step up and join the TPP negotiations, and we have welcomed your government’s commitment to continue with this policy.

Subsequent to the signing of the initial TPP agreement, ensuing developments – including America’s withdrawal from the process – have made completing the TPP11 more important than ever. It is against this backdrop that the Business Council’s 250 members wish to convey their strong support for Canada’s participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership 11 agreement and its early ratification.

Building on Canada’s successful completion of trade agreements including the CETA, the Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, and current discussions with China and other nations, the TPP11 is another critical element in our growing network of trade and investment agreements. These agreements provide for the market access that is vital to Canada’s current and future prosperity, enabling more of our companies to scale up and allowing Canadians and consumers to enjoy the benefits of competitively priced goods and inputs.

Joining the TPP11 will provide Canadian companies with significant advantages over some competitors, including those in Australia, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. Most importantly, Canada will secure preferential access to the Japanese market, our second-largest trading partner in Asia and a long-time partner for British Columbia-based natural resource and energy companies that account for three-quarters of the province’s merchandise exports.

Considering current uncertainty over the future of NAFTA, trade diversification is an important objective for Canada. Completing and ratifying the TPP11 agreement will establish conditions that support the efforts of Canadian businesses to participate in Asian markets and gain from continued economic growth in the region. As you know, Asia is where the expansion of the global middle class is most visible – a trend that has far-reaching implications for countries like Canada that are well-positioned to supply Asian consumers with the energy, raw materials, foodstuffs, technologies and services that they need to improve living standards in the decades to come.

TPP11 also provides a new set of provisions to ensure reciprocal, enforceable trade rules and establish disciplines that touch on labour and environmental standards, two matters important to Canadians.

Lastly, we suggest that the TPP11 builds on Canada’s reputation as a trusted partner and cements our position as a nation located at the mid-point between the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. With TPP11 in place, Canada will be connected, via trade agreements, with over 60% of the global economy. Companies from BC and Canada, particularly SMEs seeking first time access to global markets and supply chains, would have preferential access to nearly 90% of existing export markets. The TPP will make Canada the only G7 nation with free trade access to the U.S., Europe and the Asia- Pacific region, including three of the world's largest economies.

Prime Minister, we urge your government to conclude the negotiations on the TPP and implement the agreement as quickly as possible at this critical time.

Yours sincerely,

[original signed by]

Greg D’Avignon

President and CEO

c.c. The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Government of Canada

The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, P.C., M.P.

Minister of International Trade

Government of Canada

The Honourable Bruce Ralston M.L.A

Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology

Government of British Columbia

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