Canada eyes entry in Pacific trade talks as G20 summit comes to a close

Mexico’s inclusion in a round of major trade talks may bode well for Canada’s own hopes of getting a seat at the negotiating table.

LOS CABOS, Mexico — Mexico’s inclusion in a round of major trade talks may bode well for Canada’s own hopes of getting a seat at the negotiating table.

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper played coy Monday when asked if his government will be asked to pull up a chair — possibly by the summit’s end on Tuesday.

“We’re delighted that Americans and others have indicated an interest in seeing Canada join the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Harper said. “I think for now I’ll just leave it at that.”

Rumours and chatter abound at the G20 summit in the Mexican oceanside resort of Los Cabos that Canada will be allowed to join the negotiations on Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal many believe will be have more economic strength than the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The governing Conservatives have been lobbying the Obama administration for months to grant Canada admission to the talks.

Harper even dispatched his trade minister, Ed Fast, around the globe to drum up support for a seat at the table.

The Globe and Mail reported that no less than the prime minister’s own chief of staff, former Bay Street executive Nigel Wright, has taken the lead on the file, reportedly irking Fast, but giving a clear indication of the importance Harper puts on the trade talks.

Some analysts interpreted the inclusion of only Mexico in the negotiations as a rebuke. But it may well be that since Mexico is hosting this week’s G20 summit, it would be asked to the talks before Canada or Japan, which has also been vying to get in.

“Apparently Canada doesn’t make the grade. At least not for now,” trade lawyer Lawrence Herman of Cassels Brock wrote in an email.

“If this is true, it’s a slap in the face for the Harper government and a real setback for its trade policy agenda. It raises questions about why, after all this intense lobbying and arm-twisting by the federal government, the Americans still feel Canada isn’t welcome.

“Its especially galling that Mexico, a NAFTA partner, is being welcomed on board and not Canada.”

Herman said Canada has not put enough bargaining chips on the table to be welcomed to the group.

Canada’s trade restrictions on dairy and poultry products present the biggest obstacle to joining the nine-country talks. Canada has a supply-management system that controls milk and egg prices while setting prohibitively high tariffs on imports.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is one of many items up for discussion at this luxury resort area on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

Leaders of the world’s 20 most important economies breathed a sigh of relief after Greek voters elected a government that intends to keep the cash-strapped country in the 17-member bloc of countries that use the euro common currency.

But Europe’s debt crisis remains front-and-centre at the G20 talks.

On Monday, one of the continent’s most important politicians lashed out at those who lecture the continent on how to get its economic house in order.

Harper is among the world leaders urging his European counterparts to move swiftly to contain the debt crisis. But European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a news conference the continent doesn’t need lessons on economic stewardship from anyone.

“Frankly, we are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy and in terms of how to run an economy because the European Union has a model that we may be very proud of,” Barroso said.

“We are not complacent about the difficulties. We are extremely open. I wish that all our partners were so open about their own difficulties. We are extremely open and we are engaging our partners but we are certainly not coming here to receive lessons from nobody.”

Barosso also criticized some countries for not pledging money to the International Monetary Fund. The IMF is trying to raise $430 billion in rainy-day cash in case the economy tanks.

“Even euro-area member states alone are the biggest contributors, bigger than the United States — certainly much, much, much bigger than Canada — so the biggest contribution for the IMF all these years has been from European member states,” said the head of the European Commission.

“And it is quite interesting to note that even in times of crisis, now when we have decided to increase the funding for the IMF, once again, it is the European member states that have given the biggest part, the biggest share. And we are on time to do it. Others, unfortunately, are not on time.”

The world’s largest emerging economies were poised to announce Monday contributions to the IMF at the G20 meetings.

But Harper says Europe has the resources to deal with the debt crisis on its own. He has rejected the idea of pledging more money to the IMF. Canada already pledged $10 billion to the fund in 2009.

The two-day summit in Mexico wraps up Tuesday.

Just Posted

Spring book sale this weekend in Red Deer

Red Deerians can get lost in a world of inexpensive books this… Continue reading

Central Alberta wildlife rehab facility not prepared to take orphaned bear cubs, yet

It’s been about eight years since the Medicine River Wildlife Centre was… Continue reading

Regional sewage line moving ahead despite concerns

Cost sharing among concerns of municipalities involved in Sylvan Lake-to-Red Deer sewage line

Red Deer family who lost everything in house fire begin rebuilding

Couple had moved into north-end home only two days before basement fire

Tory Leader Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by Maxime Bernier

MONTREAL — Andrew Scheer says he doesn’t feel betrayed by former Tory… Continue reading

WATCH: Fine wine and food at Red Deer College

The Red Deer College Alumni Association hosted its 14th annual Fine Wine… Continue reading

Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Riley Nash step up in Game 4 win over Leafs

Bruins 3 Maple Leafs 1 TORONTO — The Boston Bruins didn’t need… Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling corks B.C. vintners’ hopes for free trade of Canadian wines

VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada ruling upholding interprovincial trade laws… Continue reading

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Montreal couple hoping city lets them keep beloved pet pig named Babe

MONTREAL — Babe the pig spends his days sleeping, going for walks… Continue reading

WATCH: This is a story about a stoned raccoon at a fire station

An unusual pair showed up in the pre-dawn hours at Fire Station… Continue reading

Plastic makers’ credit ratings may be hit by pollution rules

Plastic packaging makers may be less credit-worthy in the future as governments… Continue reading

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

‘Dining of the future’: vegan restaurant boom fuelled by meat eaters

Foodies say Canada is in the midst of a renaissance in plant-based… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month