Trudeau sends a message, or three, on Asian summit tour

Trudeau sends a message, or three, on Asian summit tour
From CBC - November 14, 2017

Justin Trudeau received a lot of negative publicity in the foreign media and to a lesser extent here at homeafter refusing to sign an agreement in principlefor a new trade deal with 10 other Pacific Rim nations on Friday.

Whether he "sabotaged" the deal, as one Australian newspaper put it, or "screwed" the other leaders who waited for him on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Vietnam, the prime minister suffered a hit to his popularity on the world stage, something that really has not happened since he took office two years ago.

Some observers are warning Trudeau may have made it more difficult for Canada to gain a desired foothold in two other organizations in the region: ASEAN,the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the East Asia Summit, a key forum for discussing security issues in the region. He attended both this weekend as an observer. It wasthe first time a Canadian leader had been invited.

But whatever price he paid or will pay, Canadian officials insist the benefits far outweigh it.

They say Trudeau reinforced his message that Canada will not succumb to pressure and sign a trade dealhe does not believe is in the best interests of Canada.

Japan, Australia and Singapore, in particular, wanted to press ahead, even with few changes to the original Trans-Pacific Partnership that included concessions they had all made in order to get the U.S.on board before President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal.

Canada's position is that the value of increasing trade ca not take precedence over the progressive values Trudeau wants enshrined, not just by inserting clauses to protect the environment and promote labour and Indigenous rights, but in changing the name of the pact itself to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Canada also wantedmore protections for culture and to suspendintellectual property provisionsthat critics argued would give the U.S. too much control over patents, copyrights and new technologies. It got both.

"We were not going to make concessions just to get a deal," one official said Tuesday as the prime minister winged his way back from Asia. "We are going to demonstrate to Canadians that this government is doing everything it can to achieve the standards we have set."

Canadians, though, were not the only audience Trudeau appeared to have had in mind this weekend as he met withworld leaders in Vietnam and the Philippines.

NAFTA talks loom large

Another was the Trump Administration, which is demanding significant concessions from its North American neighbours in return for not scrapping NAFTA.

Trudeau is awarethere can be no "win, win, win" in negotiations with Trump. The U.S. president's playbook designated only one winner, and it's him.

Bringing 'progressive' values to the table


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