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How Canada allied with Mexico to fend off TPP pressure from Japan, Australia

12 Nov 17
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From the outside, it seemed like yet another bilateral meeting between Justin Trudeau and his continental ally, Enrique Pena Nieto, on the sidelines of yet another leaders’ summit.

However, this time, the Canadian prime minister had a somewhat atypical schedule for his face-to-face conversation with the Mexican president.

Trudeau and Pena Nieto, who’ve built a fantastic relationship in NAFTA’s negotiating trenches, gripped hands and exchanged warm greetings in the meeting room.

It was the Canadian leader’s first bilateral meeting on the margins of the year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in a palm-lined, beachfront hotel in Vietnam. The Canadian team had proposed it that way.

A central topic of discussion, as they sank to the yellow cushions in their seats, focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade discussions.

Heading into APEC, a senior Canadian government official said Ottawa was expecting pressure from TPP partners Japan and Australia, two countries that wanted to move forward quickly with sealing the 11-country thing.

The Trudeau government, on the other hand, wanted to throw some sand in the gears. Ottawa was pushing the other parties to make changes to the way the treaty would affect areas like culture, intellectual property and the automobile sector.

“We weren’t going to be rushed into a deal,” Trudeau told reporters at his final APEC news conference on Saturday, echoing warnings he’d issued over the course of the week.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the problem, given a peek behind the scenes of what followed through the TPP talks in Danang.

The Canadian team had no plans to agree to the bargain at Friday’s TPP leaders’ meeting unless the alterations were made. And they knew they had some allies. They had been informed about unease about the bargain one of a couple of the other nations.

Indeed, the official said Japan and Australia attempted to railroad Canada into committing to an agreement in principle Friday by asserting the other TPP members would be disappointed if they did not deliver, the official said.

That is where Mexico match in.

Trudeau explained his position to Pena Nieto, who reassured him that if Canada did not sign on to the TPP, Mexico would not either, the officer said.

Mexico was sending similar signs of restraint about registering to a new TPP. The discussions were “very productive,’ but more discussion was needed, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo was reported to have said on Thursday.

The official added that Pena Nieto probably offered his support for 2 reasons: Mexico was not 100 percent comfortable with the deal on the table and the fact Canada has stood by it through the tough NAFTA renegotiation with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Soon after Pena Nieto abandoned, Trudeau held his second bilateral of the day at the same area — now with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. However, this meeting lasted over two times as long as the Mexico bilateral, a indication of tough talk.

Abe came to APEC searching for a win — a statement from Pacific Rim leaders their enormous trade deal would proceed only months after it was left for dead after Trump’s withdrawal earlier in the year.

Following the assembly, Trudeau and Abe were supposed to walk a short distance to a scheduled TPP leaders’ meeting. Some of the TPP players, such as Japan and Australia, had expected the meeting for a signing ceremony for an agreement in principle, the official said.

However, the signing never happened, much to the chagrin of an Asian nation.

Canada requested for a bilateral meeting with Japan from his admiration for Abe and the states’ strong connection, the official said. The plan was to inform him where Canada was coming from.

Abe was also educated about Mexico’s position on the subject, the official said.

Their meeting was positive and it extended for approximately 50 minutes, though it had just been scheduled for half that time. It cut to the projected TPP leaders’ meeting and retained the other leaders awaiting them at the room.

Over the course of that meeting, Abe, the TPP assembly’s co-chair, stated he would need to postpone the event. He left to tell others about the postponement and Trudeau remained behind in the bilateral-meeting room.

Trudeau faced sharp criticism on social networking and in news reports for not attending the TPP meeting. The official disputes the thought it was a snub since the leaders could mingle at APEC occasions during the next 24 hours anyhow.

“We clearly had plenty to talk about and in the conclusion of the meeting it became apparent that it was in everybody’s interest to postpone the leaders’ meeting on the TPP11,” Trudeau said Saturday.

Staying away from the meeting was not a negotiating approach, but it did yield results, the official claimed.

Late Friday, TPP trade ministers agreed to modifications and new ways forward in regions Canada has been pressing for, such as autos, cultural industries and the suspension of IP provisions in the original TPP. The officer said the changes did not come until after Canada informed the group it was not likely to agree to the deal with them.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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