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U.S. welcomes Canada into Trans-Pacific fold

U.S. Representative Sander Levin

© Benjamin Myers / Reuters/Reuters

In the United States, there is widespread enthusiasm for Canada's decision to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, partially as a means of addressing long-standing bilateral trade irritants.

"It will give us the opportunity to correct the mistakes of [the North American free-trade agreement], especially on labour and environmental standards," said Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat and the ranking member of the House of Representatives ways and means committee.

Mr. Levin said he hopes Canada's decision to join the nine-country trade partnership, like Mexico's before it, will give the Trans-Pacific group greater leverage in still-vexed talks with Tokyo.

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"With our long history of fruitless attempts to open Japanese markets, what we need from Japan is action … before … not after, joining TPP," Mr. Levin said.

Key Republicans in the House were equally welcoming of the Canadian government decision to ask to join the TPP, albeit for added heft to furthering U.S. interests.

"Adding our No. 1 trading partner will make TPP an even greater opportunity to expand U.S. exports and create American jobs," said Kevin Brady of Texas, chairman of the trade subcommittee of the House ways and means committee.

"Canada has taken important steps to prove its readiness to join the high-standard TPP agreement," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Thomas Donohue, adding that both Ottawa and Washington will need to address existing trade barriers to achieve a multilateral trade pact.

"While issues still remain regarding Canadian policies on intellectual property and supply management – which we believe the TPP negotiations should address – the United States has much to learn from Canada's tax policies, permit streamlining, and other initiatives," Mr. Donohue said.

The TPP is currently comprised of nine countries: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Assuming all nine agree, Canada and Mexico will be added, raising membership to 11. Japan and South Korea are also widely considered to be likely additions. Some believe a pact is possible by the end of next year.

The Washington-based Peterson Institute released a study this week estimating potential global gains of a Trans-Pacific trade agreement to be $295-billion (U.S.), with roughly quarter going to the United States.

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International Affairs and Security Correspondent

Paul More

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