The release of the promised study on the economic impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) does not address most concerns about the proposed international trade agreement.
Ottawa (15 Sept. 2016) — The federal government has released the long promised study on the economic impact on Canada of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to a less than enthusiastic response.
“As analysis goes, this is pretty weak,” said Larry Brown, President of the 360,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “There are some significant areas of our economy that aren’t addressed at all in the study. It primarily looks at the impact on the auto and agricultural sectors. At best, the study claims that, over 24 years, there is a very small benefit to signing onto the TPP versus a very small loss if Canada does not.”
Brown sees the reports' silence on how the agreement would affect Canadian jobs and people's wages particularly worrisome. "If the goal is economic security and prosperity for Canadians, isn't the possible impact of the TPP on jobs and wages an important consideration?"
Bad news and acts of faith
The study, prepared by the Office of the Chief Economist of Global Affairs Canada, claims that signing on to the TPP will boost Canada’s GDP by 0.127 per cent by 2040. Failing to sign would see a slightly larger loss to GDP (approximately 0.157 per cent). However, the paper acknowledges that the impact on the auto and agricultural sectors will be devastating.
“When it comes to actual figures, the outlooks is pretty bleak,” said Brown. “The study reports significant declines in the automotive sector and for some agricultural products but, almost as a matter of faith, predicts that these will be balanced out by efficiency gains in other areas. Sorry, but that doesn’t give me much confidence.”
Small gains,or small loss, over 24 years
Brown further points out that “this is all taking place over a 24 year time frame. Compared to the enormous size of the Canadian economy a tiny benefit, versus an equally tiny loss, in a 24 year time frame is not the most resounding endorsement of the agreement.”
“And this does not take into account the huge economic impact of those factors that are excluded from the study — digital trade, intellectual property rights, government procurement, state-owned enterprises, regulatory coherence, labour, and the environment," Brown said.
“The government is likely going to quote this $4.3 billion growth figure without pointing out that this is only a 0.127 per cent growth in Canada’s gross domestic product. They are hoping to confuse Canadians by using this large sum of money without putting it into the context of the entire Canadian economy,” said Brown.
Overlooks possible costs to Canada of joining
“The study doesn’t take into consideration the possible costs of trade challenges to the Canadian government under the TPP,” said Brown. “Canada has been sued by corporations using the Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions in NAFTA more than any other country. What could we expect under the TPP? Unfortunately, this study is silent on the issue.”
The study does point out that the liberalization of trade will likely result in a loss of government revenues.
"The reduction of taxes collected from corporations by the government can lead to some serious implications for Canadians" said Brown. "With less fiscal capacity, the government is limited in many of the choices it makes when providing services and supports to people. It also makes our tax system that much more unfair!"
“This is not to mention the environmental, social and political costs that accompany such an overarching trade agreement. Instead of the same old blind faith in these trade agreements, I had hoped that the new government would start to rethink their approach. So far we have yet to see it,” concluded Brown.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE