Talking about the TPP: Immigration Law and CBA-ACT weigh in

  • July 13, 2016

The previous government negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year and the current government signed the 12-country trade deal that keeps Canada in step with its NAFTA partners and expands trade opportunities with Asian nations in February.

The deal remains to be ratified in Canada and elsewhere, a process that could take up to two years to complete.

The TPP is a controversial trade deal – many complain that consultations were inadequate; others protest that it will mean bad news for certain parts of the economy and dilute Canada’s presence in the all-important U.S. market. A study from Tufts University says it will cost jobs and increase income inequality while raising the GDP by just 0.28 per cent in Canada.

A recent CBA submission looks at two aspects of the deal – the Immigration Law Section looked over Chapter 12, dealing with the temporary entry for business persons, and the Anti-Corruption Team reviewed Chapter 26, dealing with transparency and anti-corruption. Both groups had suggestions for improving the deal, but acknowledged that since it was already signed the language was unlikely to change.

For its part, the CBA Anti-Corruption Team supports the Chapter 26 provisions on transparency and anti-corruption.

“Canadian companies that do business in TPP countries need to be able to rely on the rule of law and integrity of public officials in those countries,” the submission says. “The TPP includes countries that score well on anti-corruption measures and some that score poorly. … To the extent that they are implemented, the transparency and anti-corruption provisions in the TPP will improve the rule of law and reduce corruption in TPP countries.”

Chapter 26 is generally consistent with international agreements on international corruption, though it exceeds them in some areas and does not go as far in others.

“Overall, while the chapter’s key anti-corruption provisions largely duplicate those in other international conventions, its transparency provisions represent progress that will benefit Canadian businesses. … That a trade agreement amongst 12 countries with widely divergent corruption profiles and legal systems contains robust anti-corruption disciplines is a major achievement.”

The Immigration Section’s comments largely dealt with the TPP’s consistency – or lack thereof – with other international trade agreements to which Canada is a party, as well as reciprocity of commitments within the TPP itself.

“The CBA Section is concerned that the commitments made by Canada to issue work permits for Intra-Corporate Transferees are not reciprocal with other TPP parties. The CBA Section has also identified areas of incongruity between the TPP and major free trade agreements for ICTs, the definition and duration of Treaty Investor, and the definitions and requirements of a “professional” and a “technician.”

The Immigration Law Section made a number of recommendations to address those concerns, including “a treaty trader category” in the category of “treaty investor,” a five-year initial work permit for treaty investors, changes to the definitions of professional and technician, and also changing the requirement that “professionals” be paid the prevailing wage.

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