Mark Collins – CETA/TPP: Big Canadian Trade Deals Dead

A pretty grim picture in a piece at the Globe and Mail’s business section (that really should be in the main news section):

With CETA and TPP in trouble, what’s Canada’s Plan B on trade?

Jean-Sébastien Rioux is an associate professor of public policy and director of the international policy program at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary.

Canada’s international-trade aspirations are facing serious problems, none of which are Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s fault, but all of which are likely to cause his government significant headaches in the short term.

It appears that both major free-trade agreements Canada had been poised to join – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe and the Trans-Pacific Partnership – are now either dead or in a deep coma. The likely demise of both sweeping treaties is due to different immediate factors, but related to a general pushback against elitism and globalization by populations in Europe and the United States.

As for CETA, the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, recently reversed the EC’s previous direction to hold a vote to approve CETA in the European Parliament only; ratification of the trade treaty between the European Union and Canada will now have to proceed in each national legislature of the 28 EU members, in addition to the European Parliament. Given the anti-establishment and anti-trade forces in some EU countries, passage will be almost impossible. It appears that CETA is in a deep coma.

Worse, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is likely now dead because both major U.S. presidential candidates are on the record as opposing it. Republican nominee Donald Trump used opposition to the TPP – as well as to the 25-year-old North American free-trade agreement – as a populist rallying point for his insurgent campaign. So did Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, albeit from a different political perspective, namely the left’s natural aversion to free trade and globalization. But the result is the same: TPP became a dirty word in this U.S. election cycle.

The nail in the TPP’s coffin may have been hammered by Mr. Sanders, in his speech to the Democratic National Convention endorsing Hillary Clinton. In his tirade, he appears to have announced that Ms. Clinton would not be supporting the TPP – perhaps it was one condition attached to his endorsement of her candidacy. The Democratic Party platform does suggest that support for the TPP is facing a higher bar.

So, what is Canada’s Plan B?..

Read on.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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