Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manley, CEOs Urge Trudeau to Join New U.S.-Free Trans-Pacific Partnership

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Manley, CEOs Urge Trudeau to Join New U.S.-Free Trans-Pacific Partnership

Article excerpt

CEOs urge PM to join new U.S.-free TPP

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OTTAWA - Canada needs to immediately join a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership that does not include the United States or it will miss its chance to deepen trade links with Asia, warns an ex-Liberal cabinet minister.

The urgency is self-evident because Canada's relationship with its top trading partner -- the U.S. -- is in jeopardy with the Trump administration's threats to tear up NAFTA, said John Manley, president of the Business Council of Canada and former finance and foreign minister for Jean Chretien.

"With the fragile condition of NAFTA, the trade agenda for Canada, as a narrative, writes itself. It's about diversification," Manley said in an interview Monday.

"It's going to be difficult to replace the access we've had to the United States with access elsewhere, but we've got to start working at it."

Manley said that is why his council has sent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau an open letter, signed by 18 chief executives, telling him Canada must immediately join the revamped version of the TPP.

President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Pacific Rim trade pact in January.

The letter comes after last month's decision by Canada to withhold support from what appeared to be a breakthrough agreement by the 10 other remaining TPP countries to sign a newly-configured version of the deal.

Trudeau angered allies such as Australia and Japan at the APEC summit in Vietnam when he said Canada needed to address issues such as autos and culture before moving forward.

"Asia is moving really fast. If we let TPP by, it's not coming back," Manley said.

Other Asian powerhouses such as South Korea and Indonesia will likely join the original TPP countries, making the new pact even more pervasive throughout Asia, he added.

The Business Council organized the letter, the signatories of which represent a range of sectors, including natural resources, manufacturing, transport, food and financial services.

The letter doesn't specifically mention the ever-present threat of a U.S. withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement but says trade diversification is more important than ever. …

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