Canada To Sign Pacific Deal Over Labour Objections

Canada has vowed sign onto a revised 11-member Asia-Pacific trade pact after pushing to secure a better deal, underpinning a government drive to diversify exports amid doubts over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos Tuesday that he raised his voice for an improved deal, showing how important the trade file has become for him personally.

But a major labour union and a group representing auto parts manufacturers said the deal would cause job losses.

Trade officials signed off on a final text earlier in the day after a meeting in Tokyo to overcome challenges such as Canada's insistence on protection of its cultural industries.

The deal agreed to the suspension of intellectual property and investment dispute provisions that had been a concern. Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the deal would also grant full access to Japan's auto market for the first time.

A previous round of talks last November ended in disarray after Canada objected to parts of the proposed text and Trudeau was lambasted for missing a key meeting with Japan's prime minister on how to secure a deal.

The breakthrough came on the same day that negotiators started the sixth and penultimate round of talks on NAFTA, which U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to abandon.

The Unifor private sector union and Canada's Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association complained Champagne had not warned them at meetings earlier this week that the deal was about to be agreed.

Unifor head Jerry Dias said that at a time when Canada is facing U.S. demands at NAFTA to increase the North American content of autos from the current 62.5%, the new TPP deal would allow the duty-free import of parts which contained a maximum of 35% of components from member nations.

Dias also said this would allow the greater use of cheaper parts from Asian nations, causing havoc in the domestic industry.