Canada's Trade Minister Ed Fast says he will travel to Atlanta, where chief negotiators for a dozen countries including the U.S., Japan and Mexico are hoping to conclude a massive Pacific Rim trade agreement.
"I will be in Atlanta next week," said Ed Fast during an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics on Wednesday, confirming for the first time his participation in what could be the final round of negotiations.
A meeting of chief negotiators is expected to take place this weekend, followed by a ministerial meeting next week.
The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership deal would bring together 12 countries from Chile to Japan into a single free-trade zone.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said last week there are parts of the proposed trade deal that the domestic auto industry would not like.
Fast rejected the assertion made by Unifor president Jerry Dias that Canada could lose as many as 24,000 jobs if foreign automakers are allowed to import vehicles tariff-free into Canada with substantially less North American-made content than rules currently allow for.
"Absolutely not," Fast told Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton. "No one knows where Mr. Dias got those numbers from."
"It was Canada that walked away from the table in Maui because the deal that was on the table on autos was one that did not meet the test: Is it in Canada's best interest?"
Fast insisted that Canada used this week's trade meeting in San Francisco as an opportunity to push for demands around the automotive rules of origin.
"I can assure you that at the end of the day, in consultation with the auto industry including the manufacturers, the auto parts manufacturers, we are going to come up with an agreement that is going to serve the industry very, very well going forward," Fast said.
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