As the leaders of eleven Pacific Rim countries gather in Vietnam next week to put the finishing touches on a resuscitated transpacific free trade deal, a new poll shows a surprising jump in Canadian support for the new accord.
Many analysts had predicted the imminent death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade deal, which together covered 40 per cent of the world’s economy, after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the world’s largest economy out of it.
But the leaders of the 11 remaining countries, including the new Liberal government in Canada, which inherited the deal from the previous Conservative government, continued negotiating even without Washington.
Now with the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement hanging in the balance, a new Angus Reid Institute report finds Canadians largely on board with the so-called ‘TPP 11.’ In fact, Canadians seem significantly more supportive of the TPP than in previous waves of reporting, the institute notes.
Six-in-ten Canadians (59 per cent) now say they support the trade deal. In four previous waves of reporting, support peaked at 41 per cent, with just 32 per cent saying they supported the deal when asked at the beginning of 2016, the poll showed.
Also, more than half of Canadians (51 per cent) say the benefits of pursuing the TPP outweigh the risks of angering the U.S., and that Canada should focus on developing closer trade ties with the Pacific Rim nations, rather than emphasising the traditional relationship this country holds with the United States.
“This likely does not reflect a willingness to ‘cut ties’ with the United States, but more so a desire to negotiate for growth opportunities with other nations in good faith,” authors of the report say. “President Trump is deeply unpopular in Canada and his threats of departure from NAFTA likely resonate with Canadians more than the more nuanced and quieted negotiations between the three NAFTA nations.”
And 55 per cent of Canadians now believe the trade deal would have a positive impact on the Canadian economy.
“While economic gains from a prospective TPP 11 deal are certainly smaller on aggregate than those forecasted for the TPP 12, one sectoral economic analysis suggests that the new pact may be more beneficial for Canada specifically than the previous iteration,” the report notes.
This is due to the removal of U.S. competition and preferential access for Canadian goods in many sectors, particularly agriculture and food production, the report explains.
The Angus Reid Institute conducted the online survey from October 24 to 27 among a representative randomized sample of 1504 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. A probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, the institute said.