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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services. Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Alberta’s government reaffirms $100-million commitment for the first phase of Red Deer hospital’s expansion

Alberta Infrastructure did not provide a timeline for the money’s distribution

Guy Pelletier, RDC’s board of governors chair, said the post secondary is still on the path to becoming a polytechnic institution. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RDC is confident it is still on a polytechnic path

Maintaining spectrum of programs is key

NDP leader Rachel Notley is calling on the UCP to make a public inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak at Olymel. (Facebook screenshot)
Notley calls for Olymel inquiry as plant reopens

Union also asks for further consideration to delay opening

Britanney Povey, Jeffery Kraft's cousin, was among many friends and family who turned up outside the Red Deer courthouse on Thursday to call for a long sentence for Tyler John Campbell, who killed Kraft in December 2019.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
With video: Judge rejects seven-year sentence for killer of Ponoka man

Tyler John Campbell pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December 2019 shooting

(Contributed image).
Deadline extended for arts scholarship applications for Red Deer-area students

Red Deer Arts Council will accept applications until March 15

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, holds a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Canada’s chief medical adviser says her department is constantly receiving and reviewing any data on vaccines and COVID-19 variants and will be quickly ready to authorize needed boosters when they’re ready. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Health Canada says vaccine boosters will be approved more easily

OTTAWA — Health Canada says it won’t require new clinical trial data… Continue reading

Unifor national president Jerry Dias speaks during a press conference in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Dias says Air Canada is pledging passenger refunds as negotiations over federal aid for airlines drag on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Unifor’s Dias says Air Canada holding to refund pledge as aid negotiations drag on

OTTAWA — Unifor president Jerry Dias says Air Canada continues to promise… Continue reading

Lionel Desmond (front row, far right) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown and shown in this 2007 handout photo taken in Panjwai district in between patrol base Wilson and Masum Ghar in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Trev Bungay MANDATORY CREDIT
Desmond inquiry: social worker reveals details about former soldier’s family life

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — An inquiry in Nova Scotia is hearing testimony… Continue reading

Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in Olympic Stadium in Montreal on March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Nova Scotia eases COVID-19 restrictions; cases creep up in Ontario

Nova Scotia is easing public-health restrictions in and around Halifax, while new… Continue reading

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna stands near a bus as she waits to start an announcement at a public transit garage in Ottawa, Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Liberals tap $2.5B of promised transit dollars for zero-emission buses

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are setting aside some of the billions… Continue reading

Canada’s Eliot Grondin looks on after competing in a men’s snowboard cross heat at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Grondin continued his strong season with his first career World Cup snowboard cross victory on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian Eliot Grondin captures gold at World Cup snowboard cross event

BAKURIANI, Georgia — Canada’s Eliot Grondin continued his strong season with his… Continue reading

Most Read