(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) Canada hopes to join a pan-Pacific trade pact in the first half of this year, but Ottawa is committed to maintaining contentious tariffs that help is farmers, Trade Minister Ed Fast said Tuesday.
Canada says it has won the public support of six of the nine member countries involved in negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and is trying to gain support from the others to secure its entry to the grouping.
The TPP talks currently include the United States, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Australia, and New Zealand. Japan and Mexico also seek to join.
‚"We hope to have it done this year, in fact the first half would be even better,‚ Fast told Reuters on a visit to Santiago, Chile.
‚"Any free-trade agreement involves give and take,‚ Fast said. ‚"We‚„re prepared to discuss all issues at the table. But we‚„ve also made a commitment to our farmers that our government will continue to defend Canada‚„s system of supply management.‚
Some countries reportedly oppose the supply-management system, which protects the Canadian farm sector with output quotas and prices, as well as import tariffs.