WELLINGTON, N.Z.—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wanted to read the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal before passing judgment on it, and now he’ll have his chance.
The text of the agreement finalized Oct. 5 between a dozen Pacific Rim countries has been posted on the website of the New Zealand Foreign Ministry.
In all, it contains hundreds of pages of provisions governing the trade of a vast range of goods, including cars, cheese and wine.
When the agreement was announced during the federal election campaign, Stephen Harper hailed it as a landmark deal. But a few industries—namely the auto and dairy sectors—said it would threaten the livelihoods of thousands of workers.
The dairy industry expressed concerns that the TPP would dismantle supply management, a system that limits foreign competition through tariffs in an effort to protect domestic production.
Auto workers were fuming over a provision that would phase out tariffs on imported vehicles.
Copyright activists also said they feared Canadians could face lawsuits, fines or worse for ripping CDs or uploading animated GIF files and called on Trudeau to act.
After the tentative deal was announced, then-prime minister Stephen Harper promised a $4.3 billion package for dairy farmers and $1 billion for the auto sector in an effort to boost exports and protect jobs in those industries.
The White House said that during a phone call between Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama they discussed “the need to move forward with implementing the high standards” of the TPP, and Japan has also said it’s keen to move forward with Canada on the deal that covers 40 per cent of the global economy.
The agreement, which includes a series of side deals for Canada and other signatories, is still subject to ratification.
If all 12 countries have not ratified the agreement within two years, provisions allow for it to take effect if six countries comprising 85 per cent of the GDP of the bloc have signed. That means U.S. ratification as the world’s biggest economy is essential.
Apart from Canada, the U.S.and Mexico, countries in the trade pact are New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Peru, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.
The White House says the deal eliminates more than 18,000 taxes that countries impose on U.S. exports. The agreement also calls for labour protections such as ensuring that workers in member countries have the right to form unions.
Critics complain that the agreement goes beyond traditional trade issues such as tariffs and import quotas and includes giveaways to powerful business lobbies.
The input from big businesses, such as pharmaceutical companies, recording studios, agribusinesses and other multinationals, is evident in the myriad details laid out in the document. But negotiators reflected an awareness of those concerns with meticulous references to the rights of each country to protect its own sovereign powers and best interests.
In response to U.S. pressure, TPP countries agreed to give drug companies about eight years of protection from cheaper competitors for biologics, which are ultra-expensive medicines produced in living cells. The industry had sought 12 years protection.
The agreement stresses that its provisions on patents for medicines “do not and should not prevent a Party (country) from taking measures to protect public health.”
While the deal allows multinational companies to challenge laws and regulations in private tribunals on the grounds they amount to unfair barriers to trade, it also includes safeguards against abusive claims and guarantees governments the right to enforce health, labour, safety and environmental regulations in the public interest.
Countering worries that companies might be able to overturn local anti-smoking laws, countries can specifically ban tobacco companies from using the tribunals to challenge health regulations—likely to the consternation of U.S. lawmakers from tobacco-producing states.
-Associated Press writers Paul Wiseman, Elaine Kurtenbach and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.