When it comes to free trade agreements, timing is nearly everything.

The right politicians and political parties must be in power. As well, economic conditions must be right so citizens support the deal.

That’s why Canada must act quickly to get a trade deal with Japan, says a distinguished fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation Canada.

“It’s a perfect time to do it with the Americans sitting on the sidelines,” said Hugh Stephens, who worked 28 years for the federal government in the foreign affairs and international trade department, including five postings in Asia.

Ontario’s auto sector may oppose TPP but western agricultural groups are rallying behind the deal. Eliminating tariffs on canola could increase annual exports to Japan and Vietnam by $780 million, says the Canola Council of Canada.

Japan is also a massive market for Canadian pork, representing more than $1 billion in annual sales.

The TPP debate is more than East versus West, but those competing interests are a large part of the discussion, Stephens said.

“I think it’s fair to say that there are greater potential gains for Western Canada than (for) the Ontario manufacturing sector,” he said.

“But that’s not to say there aren’t segments and niches in Ontario that will do quite well out of this.”

Canada’s TPP dilemma is further complicated because Canadian negotiators have also pushed for changes around issues such as the environment, workers’ rights and gender. On top of that, Canada is in the middle of negotiations with the U.S. and Mexico over NAFTA.

Japan has grown increasingly frustrated with Canada’s reluctance on TPP, and there are reports that Japan may proceed without Canada.

Read the full article over at The Western Producer.

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