In June 2016, I appeared at one of the government’s public town hall meetings on the TPP. Alongside then-International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland (now Global Affairs minister), C.D. Howe’s Daniel Schwanen, and Unifor’s Jerry Dias, I had the chance to raise concerns with the TPP’s IP and e-commerce provisions and then hear from dozens of people who raised a wide range of issues. The town hall was part of a broad public consultation that was frequently derided by critics as a stalling tactic, yet the impact of the consultation was felt with yesterday’s announcement of a deal on a slightly re-worked TPP that includes suspension of many of the most controversial IP provisions.
Post Tagged with: "IP"
While the NAFTA negotiations in Montreal were expected to be the lead trade story this week, the Trans Pacific Partnership talks in Tokyo have stolen the show with the remaining 11 countries reaching agreement on a deal that is likely to be signed in March. Canada faced intense criticism last year from some TPP partners (particularly Japan and Australia) over its demands to address concerns with the agreement. That sparked some Canadian business groups to quickly call on the government to simply cave in order to conclude a deal. Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne rightly argued that capitulation is not a negotiating strategy and they now come away with an improved (albeit still flawed) agreement.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade released its detailed study on the priorities of Canadian stakeholders in NAFTA earlier today. I appeared before the committee to discuss intellectual property and digital trade issues in September. The report includes notable recommendations on culture (retain the cultural exemption in NAFTA) and digital rights (ensure that digital trade provisions do not undermine Canadians’ privacy rights or security of their data, a nod to concerns over data localization and data transfer rules). It also features an important discussion on the intellectual property chapter, with clear support for retaining a made-in-Canada approach consistent with international standards.
Bursting the IP Trade Bubble: Canada’s Position on IP Rules Takes Shape With Suspended TPP Provisions
In the months following the conclusion of the Trans Pacific Partnership, critics pointed to many specific problems in the text with respect to intellectual property, culture, privacy, and dispute resolution. TPP defenders consistently dismissed those concerns, yet last week’s successful Canadian demand to suspend many of the most problematic IP provisions (along with holding out for reforms to the cultural exemption) confirms that the government has recognized the validity of the criticisms. The government may yet cave to U.S. pressure in the NAFTA renegotiation, but it has established a clear position on culture and IP that better reflects the national interest.
No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal: Why Canada Won the TPP By Standing Up for Balanced IP, Culture, and the Auto Sector
The end-game in trade negotiations always generates more than its fair share of drama and last week’s effort to re-work the Trans Pacific Partnership without the United States was no different. Canada was squarely in the spotlight with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a no-show at a ministerial meeting that was attributed to a scheduling error, but had the hallmarks of gamesmanship designed to demonstrate a willingness to walk away from the deal.
I posted over the weekend on some of the key IP provisions that have been suspended and published an op-ed in the Globe and Mail that argues that the result was a major win for Canada as the government leveraged its position as the second largest economy left in the TPP to extract significant concessions on intellectual property, culture, and the auto sector. Indeed, despite pressure to cave on key demands from the Japanese and Australian governments, Canada stood its ground and is helping to craft a trade deal that better reflects a balanced approach on challenging policy issues.