U.S. weighs completing Pacific Rim trade deal without Canada: sources

Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:45pm EDT
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By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States, frustrated over the lack of progress with Canada over new rules for agriculture trade, is weighing "contingencies" that could include completing a Pacific Rim trade pact that excludes Canada, according to two sources familiar with the issue.

One official familiar with the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiation said Canada is not coming forward with plans to lower its barriers to agricultural trade.

Meanwhile, several U.S. senators who met with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Thursday urged him to "move forward on TPP without Canada unless a serious offer on dairy, poultry, and agriculture market access" was made, a U.S. Senate aide said.

According to the aide, Froman responded that he preferred to move forward with Canada, but added that the United States is "preparing for all contingencies."

Max Moncaster, a spokesman for Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast, told Reuters: "We continue to work with all TPP partners to conclude an ambitious agreement that will create jobs and prosperity for Canadians."

But Moncaster added that Ottawa will "continue to promote and defend Canadian trade interests across all sectors of our economy, including supply management."

The United States is set to host a meeting of TPP trade ministers in Hawaii July 28-31.

The Obama administration is hoping to wrap up in coming weeks the negotiations that would establish a massive trade pact encompassing 40 percent of the world's economy, ranging from Japan to Chile.   Continued...

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks to reporters after a meeting with Japan's Economics Minister Akira Amari in Tokyo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino