Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Diplomats Told Ottawa Trade Deal Was Dead, Ministers Insisted Otherwise: Docs

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Diplomats Told Ottawa Trade Deal Was Dead, Ministers Insisted Otherwise: Docs

Article excerpt

TPP doomed under Trump, diplomats warned


OTTAWA - In the days following Donald Trump's surprise victory, Canadian diplomats in Washington repeatedly warned Ottawa that the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership was dead -- even as federal ministers insisted it might survive.

Two separate dispatches from the Canadian Embassy in Washington, obtained through the Access to Information Act, offered little hope for the deal between 12 Pacific Rim countries that involved 40 per cent of the world's gross domestic product.

The view from the diplomatic corps in Washington was decidedly more pessimistic than the message Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his then-trade minister Chrystia Freeland were delivering that same week at an international meeting in Peru.

At the time, Trudeau said the Liberals were keeping their "options open" on the deal.

Freeland refused to declare the deal dead and said the government would continue consultations with Canadians on the pact to fulfil a Liberal promise from the 2015 election campaign.

Two months later -- and just three days after his inauguration -- Trump served notice that he was taking the U.S. out of the TPP.

Shortly after the Nov. 8 election, Canadian diplomats in Washington were convinced Trump had no interest in keeping the deal alive, and they had no hesitation about saying so to Ottawa.

"No chance for TPP in lame-duck session," reads one section of a four-page memo drafted by the embassy eight days after Trump's stunning election victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

"President-elect Trump is expected to fulfil his promise to drop out of Trans-Pacific Partnership within his first 100 days in office."

Another embassy memo written the same week delivered an identical message.

"Though some optimists in Washington believed there to be a path for TPP in the lame-duck session, the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States has reduced TPP's prospects from dim to nil."

A lame-duck session of Congress is one that takes place after its successor has been elected, but before the successor's term begins in January.

Both memos noted that the Republican leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives had also said they had no plans to bring TPP forward in the fall 2016 session. …

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