TORONTO – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says the province’s automotive and agri-food sectors will need billions in funding from the federal government to survive the impact of the recently rebooted Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Wynne, who spoke Thursday to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, says Ottawa should only ratify the 11-country Pacific Rim trade deal once it has allocated transitional funding to protect jobs in the those sectors.
She says since the United States pulled out of TPP — now known by the acronym CPTPP — the dynamics have changed and require further analysis.
Wynne says during initial negotiations in 2015, Ottawa committed to help the auto sectors through an innovation fund, and announced similar assistance for agricultural businesses that are supply managed.
The premier, who spoke to the board of trade before heading to Washington for the National Governors Association Winter Meeting, says the funding promises came when the federal government calculated that the deal would reduce investment to the Canadian auto sector by two per cent and have similar consequences for agriculture.
She says over the next 10 years, the auto sector will need $1.26 billion and agri-food will need $1.4 billion.
“I have been clear that new opportunities for trade should not come at the expense of these workers. That would not be fair,” Wynne said.
“It would hurt Canada’s competitiveness. And frankly, as a country, we haven’t always got it right when it comes to properly dealing with the challenges of trade deals while benefiting from the opportunities.”
But now that the U.S. is not in the partnership after pulling out last year, Wynne said “the dynamics are now slightly different … but the principle hasn’t changed.”
“Our farmers and auto workers should not be placed at an unfair disadvantage by this trade agreement, which is why I am calling on the federal government to work with us to get transitional assistance in place before the deal is ratified.”
Wynne’s comments come days after a Global Affairs Canada analysis of the deal revealed American imports into Canada are project to fall by $3.3 billion, led by a decline in automotive products imports.
“Under the CPTPP, Canadian exports to the United States are not expected to change significantly as the United States is not party to the CPTPP. However, there would be a decline in imports by Canada from the United States, resulting from erosion of U.S.’s NAFTA preferences in the Canadian market,” the analysis said.
The CPTPP includes Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.