MONTREAL — The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports Canada’s entry into Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations for a free-trade agreement with lucrative Asian markets.
Thomas Donohue says that the U.S. lobby group strongly favours Canada’s participation, adding that the United States and Canada could help boost the world economy and promote global stability.
The U.S. and eight other nations — Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei — are currently hammering out a free-trade agreement.
Canada, Japan and Mexico have spent months attempting to convince the White House to grant them admission to the talks.
Donohue also told an international economic conference that Americans take Canada for granted partly because they view their neighbours as family, but adds that the continued strengthening of the world’s largest trading partnership is key to creating wealth and jobs.
He says that few Americans are likely aware that Canada is the United States’ largest foreign source of oil and that $1.6 billion worth of goods cross the border each day.
Donohue also said in his speech Tuesday the United States can learn something from Canada about encouraging domestic energy production.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty said more work needs to be done to remind Americans about the importance of the relationship, not just when a key oil pipeline needs government approval.
In a news release, Donohue praised Canadian policy decisions over the last two decades that have transformed the economy.
Among the lessons the United States could learn from Canada is how to encourage, rather than discourage, domestic energy production.
Donohue also called for enhanced energy co-operation between the two countries.
Senior Obama administration officials have been pressed publicly about whether Canada will be allowed to join the negotiations on TPP, a trade deal many believe will have more economic might than the North American Free Trade Agreement.
In the run-up to the G20 summit in Los Cabos this month, questions about TPP are becoming more urgent in the face of vague responses from the Obama administration. It’s been the dominant bilateral issue privately between Canadian government officials in D.C. and their American counterparts.
It’s a situation that’s frustrating stakeholders on both sides of the border amid fears that Canadian businesses will be cut out of rapidly expanding Asian markets if excluded from TPP.