Negotiators close in on auto deal, approaching 12-country trade pact

Negotiators are closing in on a major 12-country trade agreement after clearing a logjam on automobiles, with the possibility of a Trans-Pacific Partnership deal being announced as early as Saturday.

ATLANTA — Negotiators are closing in on a major 12-country trade agreement after clearing a logjam on automobiles, with the possibility of a Trans-Pacific Partnership deal being announced as early as Saturday.

Details have filtered out to stakeholders gathered in Atlanta for negotiations and multiple groups described having heard the broad outlines of a Canada-U.S.-Mexico-Japan agreement on autos.

The agreement would likely allow significantly more car parts from cheaper foreign suppliers than under the North American Free Trade Agreement, but would be more multi-layered than the old NAFTA standard.

International Trade Minister Ed Fast confirmed he was optimistic the issue could be solved. But he said talks were still underway, and would not confirm figures and percentages.

“We are making good progress in trying to conclude those negotiations,” Fast told Canadian reporters Friday.

“There’s still some work left to be done. But we’re optimistic that issue can be solved and we’ll have an outcome that will support our Canadian auto sector and ensure its long-term viability in Canada.”

It now appears that the final hurdle to a deal, from a Canadian standpoint, is one of the country’s sectors most-sheltered from foreign competition: dairy. Only 10 per cent of what Canadians consume is produced outside the country, and the government is involved in a tug-of-war over what percentage to add.

“There’s still lots of work to be done,” Fast said of the dairy talks..

The Canadian government faces domestic pressure at the Atlanta meeting: representatives from dairy-producing provinces, who are not at the negotiating table. They are there pushing against any opening to foreign milk and cheese.

Fast says he’s met with 20 Canadian stakeholder groups, and has met with those provincial ministers in Atlanta.

Canada isn’t the only country with domestic pressure: the U.S. side has received a public letter from influential lawmakers urging it to walk away unless it can secure certain gains for American businesses.

One official from the biggest U.S. business lobby present at the talks, however, said it’s urgent to get a deal now — because she said failure in Atlanta could permanently doom the decade-long initiative.

Canada’s election is only the first of several over the coming year that could play havoc with attempts to ratify a deal.

Tami Overby of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce described dairy as crucial to New Zealand, which helped spearhead the TPP project years ago largely in the hope of increasing exports.

Just Posted

Trial: Red Deer RCMP officer accused of asking prisoner to lift up her top

A woman who has accused a Red Deer RCMP officer of urging… Continue reading

Former principals, staff and students celebrate 50 years of Westpark Middle School

In the mid-1970s, Paul Gowans became principal at Westpark Middle School, and… Continue reading

Central Alberta MPs seek stiffer punishment for rural crimes

Bill C-458 was tabled Friday, and proposes to amend the Criminal Code to account for rural residents

Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets second green light from Ottawa

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is giving the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

WATCH: New RDC president has three decades of experience working at colleges and universities

Peter Nunoda says he’s ‘excited’ to help transition the college into a university

Blair says more gun-control action needed, signals no new steps before election

OTTAWA — Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair says more must be done… Continue reading

Pricey tours of decaying Titanic shipwreck delayed until June 2020

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Adventure tourists who paid $168,000 each to help… Continue reading

Police searching for suspect after shooting at Toronto Raptors rally

Toronto police are still looking for a suspect after Monday’s shooting that… Continue reading

The corporate winners and losers from the Toronto Raptors’ historic win

We The North mania spread across Canada as the Toronto Raptors created… Continue reading

Efforts continue to raise profile of New Brunswick sprint champion from 1900s

HALIFAX — A New Brunswick sprinter who achieved world-class success in the… Continue reading

Campaign to eradicate rodents puts other animals at risk

The bird was a female cardinal. It was on the ground and… Continue reading

Opinion: Throwing cold water on fee for calling firefighters

There’s never any upside to adversity. Whether it’s the loss of a… Continue reading

‘This is our story:’ Winnipeg General Strike commemorated on screen, stage

WINNIPEG — A moment in history that changed Canada forever is headed… Continue reading

Most Read