Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama formally extended an invitation to Canada to join the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, a proposed trade deal that includes the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam (Mexico was also added last week). Supporters have lauded the TPP as potentially the world’s most important trade pact and the Canadian government spent months crossing the globe to lobby for an invitation.
Yet dig beneath the heady promises and my weekly technology law column (homepage version, Toronto Star version) notes that the benefits for Canada are hard to identify. The price of admission was very steep – Canada appears to have agreed to conditions that grant it second-tier status – and the economic benefits from improved access to TPP economies are likely to be relatively minor since we already have free trade agreements with four of the ten participants.
Given those conditions, why aggressively pursue entry into the negotiations?