What Canadians should know about the TPP deal

As the government of Canada confirms that an agreement in principle has been reached for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, here is what you need to know about the largest international trade deal in world history.

The Deal

Canada’s supply-management system, which restricts the amount of milk, cheese, eggs and poultry farmers can produce while strictly limiting imports, remains largely intact. An additional 3.25 per cent of the dairy market will be opened to foreign imports under the TPP. It will be an additional 2.1 per cent for chicken and turkey, 2.3 per cent for eggs, and 1.5 per cent for broiler hatching eggs.

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Farmers will be compensated for losses under the TPP and the recent Canada-EU deal, through a multi-billion-dollar series of programs. The most important will see farmers paid up-front annually over 10 years to maintain 100 per cent income protection, and the program would taper off the five following years. The program is worth $2.4 billion. Smaller programs apply to quota-protection, modernizing equipment, and marketing assistance.

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The local-content requirement for cars sold in North America was, until now, set at 60-per-cent to avoid tariffs. The bar has now fallen t0 45-per-cent domestic parts content. This could mean significant fallout in the auto-manufacturing industry.

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The flip-side is greater access for Canadian producers to other Pacific-Rim markets. Canada’s agriculture, fish, seafood, forestry, metal and mining sectors will benefit most as producers see tariffs on their exports to Asian markets like Japan dropped immediately or over a period of time. The tariffs on fish/seafood will be gone within a decade, for example, and maple syrup will no longer be subject to a duty in Vietnam.

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An introduction of new labour regulations on worker conditions is expected.

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Next-generation pharmaceuticals, including cell-based biologics, will have patent-style protections for eight years. That’s in line with Canadian policy, but will disappoint some countries who declared anything beyond five years would be unacceptably expensive for patients and taxpayers.

There are new rules protecting the digital economy, and practices like cloud computing. National governments will be prevented from cutting off data flows, laws that require local storage of data will be limited.

Facts about the TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement has been in the works for nearly a decade, and negotiations surrounding the massive trade agreement have been taking place for the last five.

A tentative deal began to take shape on Sunday, but last-minute snags over next-generation pharmaceuticals reportedly had a cascading effect on attempts to resolve other issues. Negotiations stretched into the night, with an announcement finally coming on Monday morning. Japan was the first to break the news.

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There are 12 nations involved in the agreement: the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

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Together these nations represent 40 per cent of global gross domestic product.

Previous talks broke down in Hawaii over the summer, and a fresh round of talks was then convened in Atlanta.

Now what?

This isn’t over yet. The agreement in principle reached this weekend is not a final deal ready to be ratified by various government bodies. Several elements may still be up for negotiation in the weeks to come.

At the domestic level, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has said his party will not be “bound” by any Trans-Pacific Partnership signed by the Conservatives. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has said Canada must protect the supply-management system and has criticized the Harper government for “secrecy” during the talks, but has not taken a firm position about whether his party would back the deal. Both men are expected to react on Monday.

With files from the Associated Press

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