The Trouble with the TPP series has spent the past two months examining dozens of provisions in the agreement and their implications for Canadians and Canadian law. Yet beyond the new restrictions, missed opportunities, and business uncertainty, lies real doubt about the actual gains from the TPP. While certain groups were prepared to support the TPP sight unseen, the evidence continues to mount that there are very limited Canadian benefits from the deal. The next few days will consider the economic and employment implications of the TPP.
At a recent Standing Committee on International Trade hearing on the TPP, Brian Kingston, a Vice-President with the Business Council of Canada (formerly the Canadian Council of Chief Executives) was asked if there were any negatives about the deal. Incredibly, Kingston responded that he could not think of any, a position that was rebutted in the next hearing as agricultural groups talked about billions in losses. Further, Kingston was also asked about studies on the TPP. He indicated that the main study he had seen was from the Peterson Institute.
The Peterson Institute study is the most pro-TPP study released to date, yet even it projects only modest gains for Canada. For Canada, the gain by 2025 is estimated at 0.9 percent, one of the weakest gains among TPP countries. That places the estimate $22 billion in growth, which is not insignificant, but still relatively small given the size of the Canadian economy. But even those projections are open to doubt as critics argue that the study uses a faulty economic model and assumes untrue facts.
The Peterson Institute study paints the rosiest picture of TPP benefits for Canada. Dan Ciuriak, the former deputy chief economist at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, has estimated the net gain at only 0.1 percent of GDP by 2035 or $2.7 billion. In a forthcoming study, Ciuriak’s numbers are even lower for Canada’s GDP growth due to the TPP. Ciuriak wrote in the Globe and Mail this weekend that “if there was ever an agreement destined to confirm the law of unintended consequences, it’s probably the TPP, by virtue of its overweening ambition and its flawed process.”
Those low numbers are echoed in a study from Tufts University that finds similar weak growth for Canada from the TPP. That study estimates growth in ten years for Canada of 0.28 percent, third lowest in the TPP and virtually insignificant in terms of decade-long economic growth. Another study on the TPP’s economic impact, this one from the World Bank, ranks Canada as likely to have some of the lowest growth rates from the deal among TPP countries.
In fact, some of these studies may understate the negative broader economic impact of the TPP. For example, the New Zealand government has conducted studies on the economic losses that will accrue due to intellectual property reforms such as copyright term extension and pharmaceutical protections. For New Zealand alone, the costs run in the tens of millions of dollars for copyright. If those numbers are replicated in countries like Canada and Japan (which are also required to extend the term of copyright under the TPP), the price tag could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
There is certainly need for more study (and I am happy to post links to other reports), but the analysis to date suggests very limited economic gains for Canada in the TPP. That may be unsurprising given that Canada already has trade deals with nearly half of the TPP, but it should leave the government wondering whether all the costs and regulatory upheaval are worth the effort.
(prior posts in the series include Day 1: US Blocks Balancing Provisions, Day 2: Locking in Digital Locks, Day 3: Copyright Term Extension, Day 4: Copyright Notice and Takedown Rules, Day 5: Rights Holders “Shall” vs. Users “May”, Day 6: Price of Entry, Day 7: Patent Term Extensions, Day 8: Locking in Biologics Protection, Day 9: Limits on Medical Devices and Pharma Data Collection, Day 10: Criminalization of Trade Secret Law, Day 11: Weak Privacy Standards, Day 12: Restrictions on Data Localization Requirements, Day 13: Ban on Data Transfer Restrictions, Day 14: No U.S. Assurances for Canada on Privacy, Day 15: Weak Anti-Spam Law Standards, Day 16: Intervening in Internet Governance, Day 17: Weak E-commerce Rules, Day 18: Failure to Protect Canadian Cultural Policy, Day 19: No Canadian Side Agreement to Advance Tech Sector, Day 20: Unenforceable Net Neutrality Rules, Day 21: U.S. Requires Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Report Card, Day 22: Expanding Border Measures Without Court Oversight, Day 23: On Signing Day, What Comes Next?, Day 24: Missing Balance on IP Border Measures, Day 25: The Treaties With the Treaty, Day 26: Why It Limits Canadian Cultural Policies, Day 27: Source Code Disclosure Confusion, Day 28: Privacy Risks from Source Code Rules, Day 29: Cultural Policy Innovation Uncertainty, Day 30: Losing Our Way on Geographical Indications, Day 31: Canadian Trademark Law Overhaul, Day 32: Illusory Safeguards Against Encryption Backdoors, Day 33: Setting the Rules for a Future Pharmacare Program, Day 34: PMO Was Advised Canada at a Negotiating Disadvantage, Day 35: Gambling With Provincial Regulation, Day 36: Why the TPP Could Restrict Uber Regulation, Day 37: Breaking Digital Locks for Personal Purposes, Day 38: Limits on Canadian Digital Lock Safeguards, Day 39: Quiet Expansion of Criminal Copyright Provisions, Day 40: Mobile Roaming Promises Unfulfilled, Day 41: ISDS Rules Do Not Meet the Canada’s New “Gold” Standard, Day 42: The Risks of Investor-State Dispute Settlement, Day 43: Eli Lilly Is What Happens When ISDS Rules Go Wrong, Day 44: Canada’s Terrible ISDS Track Record)