LOS CABOS, Mexico—Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves the G20 summit in Mexico with an invite to pull up a chair at major trade talks.
Canadian officials were behind the scenes trying to wrap up the long-standing negotiation with the Americans.
Canadian officials met late into Monday night with U.S. representatives. The prime minister followed up Tuesday morning with a one-on-one meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Harper then announced Canada has been asked to sit at the negotiating table for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“Opening new markets and creating new business opportunities leads to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians,” the prime minister said in a statement.
“A TPP agreement will enhance trade in the Asia-Pacific region and will provide greater economic opportunity for Canadians and Canadian businesses.”
The announcement came a day after G20 host nation Mexico was invited to join the talks.
Nine countries are currently negotiating a free-trade pact that many feel will have more economic strength than the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada and Mexico will join the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei in the trade talks.
The deal became even more attractive with Canada and Mexico now in the picture. The 11-country trade market now swells to 658 million people and GDP of $20.5 trillion.
With such a potentially lucrative trade opportunity just off the western shores, it’s no wonder Canadian officials stepped up their lobbying of the Obama administration to allow Canada into the talks.
But Canada’s trade restrictions on dairy and poultry products presented the biggest obstacle to joining the talks. Canada has a supply-management system that controls milk and egg prices while setting prohibitively high tariffs on imports.
Queen’s University professor and trade expert Robert Wolfe said Canada’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership shows economic power is shifting toward Asia.
“The emergence of China as a major player in all dimensions of global life—economic, diplomatic, military, cultural and environmental—motivates the current re-orientation of Canadian trade policy strategy,” Wolfe said in a statement.