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Asia-Pacific free trade agreement receives Royal Assent

The new trading bloc will represent nearly 500 million people.

Canada is poised to become one of the first countries to benefit from a free trade agreement with 10 Asia-Pacific countries after the Senate adopted the legislation to implement it on Thursday.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will help Canada diversify its trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific regions, specifically with: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The agreement eliminates export tariffs on a wide range of sectors and industries across Canada, from beef and barley to forestry products and manufactured goods.

Senators recognized the importance for Canada to be among the first six countries to ratify the agreement and adopted the enabling legislation, Bill C-79, following a study at the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

After receiving Royal Assent today, the Government of Canada will implement the regulatory requirements and Orders in Council necessary to deposit its notification of ratification.

Senator Sabi Marwah, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate, detailed in a speech that early ratification will give Canadian businesses a first-mover advantage that will allow them to get established in the supply chains early on.

“A concrete example of this first-mover advantage is in the area of Canadian beef and pork exports to Japan. If we are part of the agreement when it first comes into force, our beef and pork exporters will have the first crack at using their preferential market access to displace U.S. exports, which will be at a higher tariff,” he said.

“If other countries are able to gain first-mover advantage before Canada, then Canadian exporters will have a more difficult time gaining market share.”

He added that the agreement creates “the largest trading bloc spanning the Pacific Ocean, representing 495 million consumers.”

The agreement will come into force 60 days after six of the 11 countries ratify the agreement. So far, four countries have ratified the agreement.

Asia-Pacific free trade agreement receives Royal Assent