World leaders in the Pacific region have come to an agreement on “core elements” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, according to a draft of the final statement.
“Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” reads the statement, set to be issued on Saturday.
Ministers could not agree on a “limited set of provisions,” according to the statement, so these were suspended.
It’s not a done deal yet though. International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters at the APEC summit in Vietnam that work will continue Saturday, but that leaders agreed to provisions on the environment and labour standards – something that Canada had pushed for.
He wouldn’t call this an agreement in principle. “What we have done today is to identify the areas in which we preserve market access and identify also the work that remains to be done.”
Some of the areas that will be discussed further include rules of origin on car parts, protection of cultural content and intellectual property.
“I’m pleased with the progress because I think we have been in a position to preserve the important market access in Japan,” said Champagne. “We got a better deal for Canada.”
Talks on the TPP had briefly stalled due to last-minute disagreements between several countries, including Canada, according to reports, and a leaders’ meeting was cancelled.
Champagne attributed the Prime Minister’s absence from a leaders’ meeting to a “misunderstanding” about the schedule.
Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole, who is not at the negotiations in Vietnam, took a harsher view of Trudeau’s absence. “The prime minister has embarrassed Canada on the world stage,” he said.
“It’s inappropriate for the leader of a G7 country and they can say later that progress was made in some of the talks and try and spin it backwards, but it’s a lack of respect and courtesy for our friends and allies not to show up for a meeting.”
Canada needs to “get serious” on trade, he added.
This is the second time that a TPP deal is being negotiated. The deal had to be revised after the U.S. dropped out earlier this year. The new trade deal would be between 11 countries, including Canada.
-With files from Mike Le Couteur and Reuters