All 11 members are expected to sign the trade deal today
By Diego Flammini
Canada’s agricultural industry is applauding the progress of a landmark trade deal.
International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is in Santiago, Chile today to officially sign Canada into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Trade officials from the other 10 members are also expected to sign off on the deal today.
The CPTPP will reduce tariffs in countries that make up nearly 15 per cent of the global economy. The deal will also expose about 500 million people to the high-quality products coming from Canadian farms.
“It’s very encouraging news the country’s ag sector and especially farmers in Western Canada,” Todd Lewis, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, told Farms.com today. “We’re going to enter markets that clearly want our products so it’s great.”
The challenge now, Lewis says, is to ensure Canada’s products can enter large markets like Japan before some of its competitors. Such exports begins with reliable transportation.
An insufficient number of rail cars has lead to grain backlogs on Prairie farms and Bill C-49 still needs to pass a third Senate reading before becoming law. If Canada can’t get its products to ports on time, the trade deals are almost irrelevant, Lewis said.
“The transportation issue is incredibly important,” he said. “If you can’t get the grain from the farm gate to the port and eventually to import facilities, it doesn’t matter what trade agreements we have. Industry and government have spent a lot of time negotiating these deals and now we need the railroads to do their part and make sure the products get to where they need to go.”