#Francois-PhilippeChampagne, #ComprehensiveandProgressiveTrans-PacificPartnership, #Mercosurblocofnation, #NAFTA,,
Ottawa, Feb 15 (Canadian-Media): The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly known as the TPP. would be signed on March 8 by Canada's minister of international trade, Francois-Philippe Champagne, media reports said.
According to official reports, the day following the signing of the deal, Canada's delegation would reportedly fly over the Andes to Asuncion, Paraguay, to launch free trade talks with the Mercosur bloc of nations.
Mercosur a trade bloc, reportedly the largest trade bloc in this hemisphere after NAFTA, was formed in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Canada wanted to further enhance business perspective with Mercosur market, where Canada's two-way trade runs to only about $8 billion Cdn. and Canadian officials reportedly said all four Mercosur member-nations have expressed strong interest in free trade with Canada.
Canada wants a progressive deal that includes real, enforceable labour and environmental standards, with the objective of levelling the playing field between the two sides.
Mercosur nations already have strong labour unions and some, such as Argentina, have strong labour laws.
But Canada also would probably want to discuss health and safety, gender and environmental issues, as it has in other recent trade negotiations.
Sectors of the Canadian economy that could stand to gain the most from the deal include mining, auto parts, financial services and forestry, say Canadian officials.
Another area that interests Canada is infrastructure and government procurement, though the Canadian side recognizes those might be tough sells for their Mercosur counterparts.
The Trudeau government has insisted that it is not negotiating new trade deals as an alternative to NAFTA, but rather as part of an ongoing mission to expand Canada's trading opportunities around the globe.
And Mercosur would fit into Canada's longstanding goal of trade diversification.
It also could provide an outlet for Canadian sectors that feel threatened by U.S. demands in the ongoing NAFTA talks.
Auto parts makers, nervous about their continued access to the U.S. market, could find a welcome alternative in supplying the auto industries of Brazil and Argentina. Canadian auto parts are currently subject to a punishing 35 per cent tariff in Mercosur nations.
Together, Argentina and Brazil produced about 2.6 million vehicles last year (more than Canada), including brands such as Honda, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Toyota.
But it's unlikely the volume of auto parts trade with Mercosur would ever rival the access Canada enjoys through free trade with the U.S. — a country with a $20 trillion US economy that produces over 12 million vehicles annually.
If NAFTA talks fail and Mercosur talks succeed, Canada could find itself with free trade deals with almost every American nation except its original partner, the United States.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)