Mr. Groser’s comments, made during a visit to the Globe and Mail on Tuesday:
1. On the next round of TPP, which New Zealand is hosting and which Canada and Mexico will be part of:
We’ll be looking forward to welcoming Canada into the next round … when your team arrives in Auckland, the first thing that will strike them is the numbers of people involved in this. There are anywhere between 600 and 800 officials negotiating this agreement. This is going to grow with the addition of Mexico and Canada. They are organized in 29 chapters, which is a euphemism for different negotiating groups. This is a big deal.
What is this really about? It’s really about linking our economies into the world’s emerging growth region. And that storyline was always there. I just feel that the euro-zone crisis and other slow-growth problems in the traditional centres of developed countries simply make that story on steroids.
2. On the benefits of free trade with Asian countries, including China:
We have the trade policy platforms in place that provide us with opportunities we never, frankly, 20 years ago, dreamed of having.
We’ve got 500 million people in the middle class and this will rise in Asia to 3.2 billion by 2030 … this will present unparalleled opportunities, for us, for Australia, and for Canada and the United States because we’ve got many things that they will want to buy.
Our fastest-growing market in the world is China. We’re the only developed country in the world to have a comprehensive free-trade agreement with China. I don’t think in some areas we’ve scratched the surface of the market. We just can’t keep up with demand in China for safe foodstuffs.
3. On Canadian sensitivities over agriculture in TPP trade talks:
Canada is this amazingly competitive agricultural exporting country. You have this efficient machine here which has a fantastic future feeding these 3.2 billion people, because sure as hell New Zealand can’t do this alone, neither can Australia.
And then you’ve got the supply-management industries of pork, poultry and dairy, of which dairy is politically the biggest and most difficult, which is extremely sensitive, which has this 1950s, 1960s-style policy regime that most countries have moved out of – not all, but certainly most.
I understand this is not an easy issue for Canada. We don’t imagine for one minute this can be done in anything less than a decade. This requires a great deal of adjustment and care.
4. On the World Trade Organization, where Mr. Groser is seen as a candidate for the top job:
I’m still thinking about it. If I do decide to [take] the job, in the event that membership supports it, it’s really bad news for journalists – because I believe that position is better very discreet.
I’m just watching, waiting and taking soundings to see if there’s some political space there or not.
The only thing I’ll say is the obvious – I really believe the WTO is one of the world’s most successful multilateral institutions. I know it’s stuck at the moment. But when you take Korea for example, who could have imagined this country, which was one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, have done what they did without relative open access?
Comments have been condensed and edited.