TPP heating up ahead of election


TORONTO, Sept. 11, 2015 /CNW/ - Talks toward a Trans Pacific Partnership are heating up with negotiations today in Washington and more planned in the coming weeks in Malaysia that threaten potentially thousands of jobs here in Canada, Unifor warns.

"With the rush to cut a deal before the election, we should be concerned that the Harper Government will sign away Canadian jobs just so they can boast about a new trade deal before Canadians go to the polls," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

"Stephen Harper should know that cutting jobs is no way to win an election."

The 12-country talks toward a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) hit a snag in July, in part over a secret U.S.-Japan deal to drastically lower the content limits on auto parts made in the TPP zone.

Lower limits would mean more parts could be imported from such places as China and Thailand, which would be outside the TPP, replacing parts currently made in Canada.

"Watering down the content thresholds on parts and vehicles amounts to opening a huge back door to our market for products made in China and other non-TPP countries," Dias said. "That is a direct threat to thousands of good Canadian manufacturing jobs – exactly the kinds of jobs we need."

"As it stands now the TPP could take up to a quarter of the domestic content out of North American auto production. The Mexican auto parts industry estimates that would knock 30% off their current production and employment. The implications for Canada are certain to be worse," Dias stressed.

The talks today in Washington are among Canada, the U.S., and Mexico to discuss those content rules ahead of a planned ministerial meeting likely occurring in Malaysia later this month or early October. A deal will need to be reached at that meeting if the Harper Government hopes to use a new trade deal to boost its flagging support in the polls.

"Unifor supports balanced and fair trade, but this isn't it," said Dias.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including 40,000 in the auto sector. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.