U.S. President Barack Obama says he expects Canada will sign on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite the fact the Liberal government has officially been non-committal on the trade deal.
“We are both soon to be signatories to the TPP agreement,” Mr. Obama, seated next to Mr. Trudeau in a small room, said following their first formal meeting.
“That’s another area we can continue to have important discussions. I know Justin has to agree with what’s happened, but we think that after that process has taken place, Canada, the United States and the other countries that are here can establish the high-standards agreement that protects labour, protects the environment, protects the kind of high value-added goods and services that we both excel in.”
The federal Liberal government has said that it is pro-trade but that any final decision will depend on the outcome of parliamentary hearings. However, the President’s remarks suggest he views Canada’s support as a done deal.
The TPP is a sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal that was agreed to by the former Conservative government during the federal election campaign. The text of the agreement was released on Nov. 5, the day after the swearing-in of Mr. Trudeau’s government.
Asked later about his position on the TPP, Mr. Trudeau maintained his government’s position that a final decision will not be made ahead of planned parliamentary hearings.
“On the TPP, we look forward to hearing from Canadians about the concerns that they may have but also about the great opportunities that no doubt come with a deal with this, and we’re going to fulfill our obligations and remain resolute in being a pro-trade party,” he said. “As to the contents and the unfolding of that, it will be before Parliament and I won’t engage in hypotheticals.”
The meeting between the two leaders took place Thursday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Manila, where 21 countries are meeting to discuss the economy and trade, as well as the recent rise in global terrorism. The TPP involves 12 of the APEC countries, and excludes Russia and China.
The two leaders discussed counterterrorism issues related to exchanging information on potential threats. Other issues the leaders said they discussed included improving cross-border trade, the upcoming United Nations climate-change conference in Paris and plans for Mr. Trudeau to visit the White House.
The President said he was looking forward “very much” to working with Mr. Trudeau. “I’m confident that he’s going to be able to provide a great boost of energy and reform to the Canadian political landscape,” he said.
In response to a question about whether Mr. Obama provided any advice to Mr. Trudeau, the President said he told the Prime Minister that the job will quickly lead to grey hair and to act soon if he is thinking about dyeing his hair.
“The first call I made to him, I said, ‘Justin, congratulations. You and your family look great. I know Canadians are incredibly inspired by your message of hope and change. I just want to point out that I had no grey hair when I was in your shoes seven years ago, and so if you don’t want to [go] grey like me, you need to start dyeing it soon,’” Mr. Obama said.
“So young and yet so cynical,” Mr. Trudeau interjected.
Mr. Trudeau’s hectic week-long world tour ended with a frantic dash for the exits at the Pacific Rim summit, where he was chased by screaming volunteers and international media eager to get a glimpse of Canada’s new celebrity Prime Minister.Report Typo/Error