Recent Setbacks for Canada in Asia Could Affect NAFTA Bargaining Power

This article originally appeared in Global Trade Magazine on Dec. 19, 2017.

By David Rish, President, Global Trade Management

In the game of trade negotiation, timing is critical and perception is reality.

These tenets of gamesmanship have become evident over the past couple of weeks as Canada moved to secure closer trade ties to the Asia-Pacific region, but stopped short of solidifying agreements in principle.

The troubles began a few weeks ago at the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference where key members of what many were hoping would be a revitalized Trans-Pacific Partnership (now dubbed as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership or CPTPP) brought the finalization of a trade deal in principle to a standstill after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to agree to the CPTPP’s terms.

The Canadian delegation was vague about the reasons, citing concerns over automotive industry competition, intellectual property rights, and cultural exemptions. It would be unfair to say Canada stood alone in expressing concerns over the proposed terms of the CPTPP, but the remaining 10 parties were reportedly prepared to sign an agreement in principle before the Canadian delegation chose to hold off.