Newspaper article The Canadian Press

U.S. Chamber Supports Canada's Efforts to Join Free Trade Talks with Asia: U.S. Chamber Backs Canada's Bid to Join TPP

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

U.S. Chamber Supports Canada's Efforts to Join Free Trade Talks with Asia: U.S. Chamber Backs Canada's Bid to Join TPP

Article excerpt

MONTREAL - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports Canada's entry into Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations for a free-trade agreement with lucrative Asian markets, the powerful business lobby said Tuesday.

Chamber president Thomas Donohue said the business group strongly favours Canada's participation, adding that the United States and Canada could help boost the world economy and promote global stability.

"The best opportunity is the Trans-Pacific Partnership," he said in a statement.

The U.S. and eight other countries -- Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei -- are currently hammering out a free-trade agreement.

Canada, Japan and Mexico have spent months attempting to convince the White House to grant them admission to the talks.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver welcomed the business lobby's support.

"That is helpful and a positive development," he told reporters after speaking Tuesday to the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal.

"We see that opportunity as important and consistent with the strategic objective to diversify our market."

Canada is in talks with the European Union and has had bilateral discussions with many countries in its bid to boost free trade with Asia, which is "absolutely fundamental to where we want to see trade increase," Oliver added.

In the run-up to the G20 summit in Mexico this month, questions about TPP have become more urgent in the face of vague responses from the Obama administration. It's been the dominant bilateral issue privately between Canadian government officials in Washington and their U.S. counterparts.

Donohue told the economic conference that Americans take Canada for granted partly because they view their neighbours as family, but added that the continued strengthening of the world's largest trading partnership is key to creating wealth and jobs.

"We'd never treat our friends that way and we take this relationship somewhat for granted, I think on both sides, and I think we have to work very hard on that."

He said that few Americans are likely aware that Canada is the United States' largest foreign source of oil and that $1. …

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