Letter to The Right Honourable Stephen Harper

February 13, 2012

The Right Honourable Stephen J. Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Block
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister,

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) strongly supports your Government’s recent expression of interest in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

The TPP represents an historic opportunity for Canadians as our country seeks to expand trade and investment relations in the Asia Pacific region. As a regional arrangement, the TPP has the potential to become a key instrument of Asia-Pacific economic integration. An ambitious agreement would contribute to stronger employment and economic growth in Canada through greater commercial opportunities and diversification of export markets.

In addition, the TPP could act as a catalyst in strengthening the North American partnership. It would enable Canada to build on the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement and its successor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, both of which were completed before the emergence of global supply chains, the growing importance of the service sector and the rise of the Internet.

It is in Canada’s interest to enter the TPP negotiations this year, without pre-condition and with the objective of reaching a comprehensive, ambitious accord within the timeframe currently envisioned by TPP participants. Any attempt to impose preconditions would reduce the value of the negotiations to Canada and make it more difficult to achieve the sorts of tradeoffs that can make possible a balanced final agreement.

Canada’s commitment to open markets speaks for itself. Our country’s track record of trade and investment liberalization through the negotiation of bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements is well established. Your Government’s recent unilateral moves to eliminate tariffs on intermediate goods will position Canada as the first G20 country to become a tariff-free zone for manufacturers.

The recent adoption of legislation to end the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board is proof that Canada is prepared to make important trade policy adjustments. We believe that the same consideration should be given to Canada’s supply-managed dairy and poultry sectors – two industries that are capable of competing internationally at a time when global demand for food and nutrition is increasing.

The Government of Canada is fortunate to be able to call on a team of talented and creative trade and investment negotiators. Canada was an important contributor to the development of new global rules and standards at the G20. Canadian negotiators performed superbly in talks on the Canada-United States Action Plans on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness and Regulatory Cooperation. These negotiating models deserve consideration in the TPP negotiations within the context of trade facilitation and security as well as regulatory coherence.

Canada could contribute to, and benefit from, an ambitious outcome in the TPP negotiations. At the same time, we would encourage a continued focus on other important bilateral economic partnership arrangements.

The CCCE looks forward to working with your Government on this important initiative and wishes you every success in this phase of TPP consultations.

Sincerely,

John Manley
President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council of Chief Executives 

c.c.      Members of the Cabinet
            The Membership Canadian Council of Chief Executives