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Asia-Pacific trade pact nabs Senate approval as Liberals push for trade diversification

Click to play video: 'Justin Trudeau: ‘The NDP don’t want to sign any trade deals’'
Justin Trudeau: ‘The NDP don’t want to sign any trade deals’
WATCH: Prime Minister Trudeau responded to NDP MP Tracey Ramsey's criticism of the government's ratification of CPTPP by claiming the party is opposed to all trade deals – Sep 18, 2018

After studying it for just under one week, the Senate has approved the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

CPTPP (Bill C-79) technically went to the Senate on Oct. 16, and is set to be given royal assent Thursday afternoon.

Canada signed the CPTPP this past March, though every signatory country of the deal had to pass enabling legislation to change tariffs and duties accordingly before the deal could come into force. The signatories include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Canada became one of the first of these signatories to ratify the deal on Thursday, with five countries still outstanding.

READ MORE: Trudeau says he’s looking at ‘thoughtful ways’ to expand trade with China

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The context of the CPTPP is to counterbalance the increasing economic power China, and also serves as an opportunity for Canada to diversify its trade relationships, Trudeau has said in the past.

The CPTPP incorporates the provisions of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement — which was signed on Feb. 4, 2016 — with the exception of a number of intellectual property and investor dispute settlement clauses. The TPP was never ratified because of the United States’ decision to withdraw in 2017.

WATCH: NDP criticizes Liberal government for ratifying CPTPP

Click to play video: 'NDP criticizes Liberal government for ratifying CPTPP'
NDP criticizes Liberal government for ratifying CPTPP

The approval of CPTPP comes just weeks after the United States, Canada and Mexico approved the updated North American Free Trade Agreement, entitled the United States Canada Mexico Agreement (USMCA).

A Senate committee said in its report Thursday that the government needed to ensure domestic companies “maximize the benefits” of the agreement. furthermore, the Liberals also must develop methods for helping workers hit by the new competition from across the Pacific.

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And the committee had a key point for the government that may serve as a warning for parliamentary review of the new North American free trade deal, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

“The committee understands the importance for Canada to be one of the first six ratifying countries of the CPTPP. Nevertheless, it reiterates that parliamentarians require sufficient time to study comprehensive, complex and technical (free trade agreements) implementing legislation.”

Observers have said that being among the earliest adopters of the deal will give Canada an economic head start in carving out market share ahead of the remaining five countries.

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