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TPP Negotiations Down to Delicate and Most Defensive Positions

21 July 2015, at 12:00am

CANADA - Canada's Agriculture Minister says the recent US passage of the Trade Promotion Authority has reinvigorated negotiations aimed at securing a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

The 12 nations involved in negotiations aimed at securing a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement account for an estimated 40 per cent of the world's gross domestic product and a third of all global agricultural trade.

Following the annual meeting of federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers last week, Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz told reporters, the recent approval of the US Trade Promotion Authority, which allows Congress to accept or reject a trade agreement in its entirety before it moves to the president for final approval, has been a key development.

Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food:

With the US passing TPA, the fast track it's known as, it certainly puts a new focus from all countries that there is a chance that this can move forward.

Up until that point even the representatives and senators in the US are saying we don't know why any country would take this seriously when there's a chance of 500 plus amendments to any bill that came forward and it wouldn't be signed in any way, shape or form soon.

So it's reinvigorated the pressure to get to the table and finalise these talks.

As with any negotiation, everybody is down to the delicate and most defensive positions on a myriad of issues, not just agriculture, so the negotiators will be attending a workshop starting next week I believe it is in Hawaii working towards resolution on a lot of them.

The trickiest ones will be left for a ministerial summit which I understand is slated to take place towards the end of July in Maui as well.

We'll assess it as we move forward.

Canada's positions are well known and we'll continue to look for a balanced outcome.

With regards to calls from the Canadian dairy industry to protect supply management, Mr Ritz said the federal government has shown concern for the supply managed sector in all trade negotiations but we have to have balance among the multitude of commodities that are exported.

He stressed that Canada has never negotiated this in public and he is not prepared to do that now.

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