According to a post from Oct. 5 on www.international.gc.ca the Government of Canada announced that members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement.
“This is a partnership of 12 countries that rely on trade to make sure their own economies are strong, as well as rely on that trade from other countries to backstop the shortfalls we have in our country,” said Gerry Ritz, Conservative candidate for Battlefords-Lloydminster. “I would point to the seasonality when it comes to a lot of produce that we would rely on a lot of other countries, say in the southern hemisphere, for the offset.
“So there’s a lot of strength of economies by relying on someone else’s strength.”
Ritz says the TPP would help Canadian industries right across the board by providing dependable and predictable trade routes and having Canada be part of global supply chains. This offers more diversity of markets, rather than just trading across provincial borders. As for the Lloydminster area specifically, he says the benefits will also be positive.
Being on both sides of the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, Ritz says that the area is both resource wealthy and exceptional with agriculture.
“When you look at major processors like ADM (Agri-Industries Co), there’s a huge market for canola, biodiesel. When you look at Heartland Livestock, some of the smaller abattoirs around like Diamond 7 meats, of course they don’t export to that level, but when someone else exports that means there’s a bigger demand for what Robert Lundqvist and his crew do at Diamond 7 right here locally,” said Ritz. “So grains, oilseeds, pork, our SM groups are all going to gain exponentially having access to 800 million consumers.”
Agriculture especially has been proven a big winner in any of the trade deals that have been done over the years, according to Ritz. An example he gives is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in which he says agriculture has done much better than what anybody thought it would.
He says Canada produces between 50 and 90 per cent more than what the country can consume of any given commodity, so that excess needs a place to go. Deals such as the TPP make it easier for this extra product to find a place to go.
The 12 countries involved in the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam. Of these, Ritz figures the country with highest demand for commodities that might come out of Lloydminster would, other than the U.S., likely be Japan.
“They’re a premium market, especially when it comes to our pork and beef sector, our grains, our barleys, wheats, our canola and so on, they’re a major buyer and in a number of trips that I’ve made to Japan they constantly comment on the quality and consistency of supply that we can give them.”
See “TPP,” Page 9
Some sectors and political parties, however, have been wary of the TPP deal. There was a story from Oct. 6 on www.cbc.ca that said the dairy and auto sectors were worried their respective markets would be diluted with foreign product, but officials from both industries recently backtracked after they were offered mitigation measures.
“You got people like the NDP and the unions that are against trade just because they are against trade, but at the end of the day being part of the global supply chain means instead of just selling your parts to Chevrolet, Chrysler and Ford, you’re going to be selling them to some of the other manufacturers around the world. So this is an opportunity for them to expand their businesses throughout the world,” Ritz said.
“The same thing with the dairy industry. They’ve been very supportive in the last couple of days now that they have had a chance to look at the requirements. Their ability to trade back into some of these markets is something new to them. So we’ve announced some transitional moneys for both the auto sector and the supply manage sectors for them to take advantage of these new realities.”
The TPP is still not finalized and needs approval from some of the governments involved, including Canada’s once the election is over.