Trans-Pacific Partnership

Unifor opposes ratification of new CPTPP

Unifor vows to fight ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

On March 8, 2018, Canada signed a new Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with 10 other pact nations, despite serious concerns raised by Canada’s auto, auto parts and dairy sectors. The new agreement includes special investor rights to challenge public policies while it fails to contain meaningful rights for workers. 

The Canadian government is expected to table CPTPP legislature before the House rises on June 22 with the goal to pass the legislation in the fall of 2018.

Unifor has sent a letter to Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne to express the union’s opposition to the proposed CPTPP. The letter states “Signaling your intent to move quickly to implement the terms of the CPTPP, a trade agreement that will expand Canada’s trade imbalance, accelerate what is a one-sided trade advantage enjoyed by Japanese auto exporters into Canada’s market, and yield marginal benefits (at best) to Canada’s overall economy is simply the wrong move at the wrong time.”

 Read the full letter here.

Shortly after becoming U.S. President, Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal. This seemed to spell the end of the TPP, but now the deal has been revived without the U.S.

Among the key concerns is that the new TPP rules will act as a disincentive to Japanese and other foreign automakers from investing in Canada. A side letter struck between Canada and Japan ensures that Canadian auto exports are treated no less favorably by Japan than other trading partners, yet Japan is among the most closed markets in the world for automobile imports. Signing a deal that negatively affects major sectors, including auto, also sets a precedent for other international trade deals such as NAFTA.

On labour rights, the new TPP fails to make any meaningful advancement to ensure compliance and enforceability. The Labour Chapter is essentially unchanged from the initial agreement, with its terms derived from the U.S. original negotiating template. These terms have been tested in other global trade treaties and proven ineffective in addressing labour violations.

Unifor has been a leading critic of the CPTPP and its TPP predecessor. Our year-long TPP campaign in 2016 opened the eyes of many Canadians to the dangers of modern trade deals and the impact they have on all Canadians.

Unifor will continue to oppose any attempt to revive the TPP, dubbed "the worst trade deal ever" by Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

"TPP was a bad deal then, and it's a bad deal now. We were told we had to be in the TPP because the U.S. was in it. Now, the U.S. is out. Why would we revive a trade deal that was so bad for Canadian workers and communities? The federal government has not even completed its review of the last TPP deal. Canadians have said they do not want the TPP. The government does not have a mandate to bring this bad deal back to life," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

In the coming weeks the union will mobilize workers across the country to aggressively oppose the agreement and will actively lobby MPs to vote against implementation.

What is the TPP, anyway?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade deal between 12 member nations - Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States of America. Because US ratification of the deal was needed for it to go through, the deal's future is in doubt after Trump withdrew for the talks. Some of the other countries involved, however, are trying to revive the TPP in some form.

When the original talks began, Canada was late to the game, joining the TPP negotiations near their completion, which meant negotiating from a position of weakness with limited ability to shape the main features of the deal.

The TPP is not so much a trade deal as a corporate rights deal that limits the ability of democratically elected governments to regulate industry or pass laws that might infringe the profits of foreign companies - even if those laws are in the best interest of their citizens.


Unifor remains part of a wider movement of groups also concerned about the TPP:

Unifor worked with other progressive groups to expose the secret talks and to voice our continue opposition to the deal.


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