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Canada PM Harper welcomes TPP access to Japan market

06 october 2015, 13:06

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised Monday a "historic" accord creating the world's largest free trade area, saying access to Japan would be a boon for Canadian farmers and resource sectors, AFP reports.

Twelve Pacific rim countries sealed the trade deal encompassing 40 percent of the global economy following marathon talks in Atlanta, Georgia.

"Canadian exporters will gain almost tariff-free access to almost 800 million consumers in the Asia Pacific region," Harper told a press conference.

"Crucially for us, Japan (represents) a vast new market for Canadian enterprise and goods," he argued, saying the agreement "exceeded my best expectations." 

The TPP accord has become a politically-loaded subject in the run-up to October 19 elections in Canada, in which polls suggest the public's chief foreign policy concern is trade.

Harper's rivals on the campaign trail raised concerns about opening Canada's mostly closed dairy sector and losing its status as a favored supplier of auto parts to the US auto industry under the NAFTA treaty.

Harper has also faced criticism for negotiating the TPP deal behind closed doors.

The leftist New Democratic Party (NDP) -- which is currently trailing in the polls -- said if elected it "would not consider itself bound" by the deal that "puts family farms at risk." 

Harper said the TPP deal "is a key part of our plan to manage and grow the economy."

"It will be the new gold standard for global trade agreements," he said. 

Ottawa will also compensate dairy farmers who are set to give up some access (3.25 percent) to their mostly closed market.

The Canadian auto and auto parts industry, which currently exports 85 percent of its wares to the United States, meanwhile, "will have unprecedented access to most of our major competitors in the global market, not just North America, but Asia and Europe too," Harper said.

Both dairy and auto parts, along with drug protections had been sticking points in the negotiations, which started in 2008.

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