Canada side deal with U.S. on illicit trade emerges with release of TPP text

Canada has signed almost two dozen side letters with its trading partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including an agreement with the United States to combat illicit trade.

OTTAWA — Canada has signed almost two dozen side letters with its trading partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including an agreement with the United States to combat illicit trade.

Canada also signed a side agreement with Japan that appears to protect the exports of British Columbia logs, a key sticking point between those countries in the multi-layered negotiations.

The letters were released as the text of the broader TPP agreement, finalized Oct. 5 between a dozen Pacific Rim countries, was also publicly released Thursday.

The complex deal contains hundreds of pages of provisions covering the trade of a vast range of goods, including cars, cheese and wine.

Canada also released a series of side letters that cover a range of bilateral issues with specific countries spanning several sectors.

Canada and the U.S. traded a letter on border enforcement and information sharing, to “address illicit trade in counterfeit trademark and pirated copyright goods.”

The letter says Canada and the U.S. are committed to “using appropriate risk management, as determined by each government, to address the challenges that this illicit trade poses at their respective borders.”

They pledge to share information between their respective customs agencies on goods that infringe copyright and trademarks in an attempt to target the “organizations engaged in this illicit activity” and “target future illicit shipments and to investigate trade in counterfeit trademark and pirated copyright goods.”

Another letter between Canada and Japan appears to confirm that the current Canadian regime on the export of B.C. logs remains in place. The export of logs is heavily controlled by the federal and provincial governments, which drives up their cost to foreign buyers. That is similar to the protections afforded to Canada’s dairy farmers under the supply management system.

Timber had become a sticking point between Canada and Japan. Canadian government documents previously obtained by The Canadian Press said Japan was pushing Canada to eliminate or modify the controls it imposes on B.C. log exports.

“For greater certainty, Japan and Canada confirm that nothing in this letter shall have any other implications with respect to Canada’s existing practices and procedures relating to its existing measures concerning the export of logs of all species,” the new side letter states.

“In respect of the export of logs, Japan and Canada maintain their rights and obligations under the WTO Agreement, and any dispute regarding a matter relating to the export of logs shall be settled under the WTO.”

The letter between Canada and Japan also formalizes the creation of a bilateral forestry committee on forest products to help settle disagreements.

“Either Japan or Canada may raise a matter relating to the understandings set out in this letter to the committee, and the committee shall seek to resolve that matter,” the letter states.

The Japan letter is one of 10 dealing with market access for goods. Other side letters were signed Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the United States.

Canada also signed a letter with its North American Free Trade Agreement partners, the U.S. and Mexico on government procurement rules.

Canada also signed other letters with various TPP countries covering intellectual property and government procurement.

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