1. The CPTPP
Though President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP in January, the remaining 11 countries are working to resurrect the deal as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This deal, if signed, would eliminate approximately 95% of tariffs on trade between these countries, who have a combined GDP of over $10 trillion USD.
In November, Canada surprised the other 10 countries by declining to sign the agreement, to the surprise of the negotiators and the Canadian international trade community. However, amid efforts to diversify exports beyond the American market, it seems unlikely that Canada will continue to drag its heels on an opportunity to gain preferential access to the Japanese market in particular. Expect any final issues to be resolved and the CPTPP to be signed sometime in 2018.
2. Ongoing, contentious Brexit talks
By December 2017, the UK has completed the first phase of Brexit negotiations with the EU, covering issues such as the Irish border, citizens’ rights and financial settlements. The second phase of negotiations will cover the UK’s transition period after formally leaving the EU in March 2019. Discussions over the long-term relationship between the UK and EU will be included in phase three.
This process was complicated on December 13, when several Conservative British MPs joined the opposition to vote for an amendment requiring British Parliament to debate and vote on any final deal with the EU before it can be approved.
The second phase of Brexit negotiations are planned for 2018, and are expected to present few greater challenges than the first phase. The final phase on the long-term relationship between the UK and EU, however, presents several important questions about economic integration and free trade that Britain’s politicians and citizens have not yet agreed upon.
With two sets of challenging negotiations, and the extra hurdle of parliamentary approval, the odds that talks will drag into the
3. Sustainable, cleantech exports
If you’re involved in the clean tech and sustainability sector, 2018 should be a strong year for you. Despite the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, global regulations are still trending towards stricter environmental and emissions regulations, requiring businesses to invest in cleaner technology in order to meet those standards. According to EDC President and CEO Benoit Daignault, total global investment in cleantech has now exceeded $1 trillion and will reach $2.5 trillion by 2020.
Canada in particular is placing great emphasis on this industry. The Canadian government promised $1 billion towards clean tech in its 2017 budget for R&D. The Trade Commissioner Service is also hiring 15 new Trade Commissioners to focus specifically on cleantech.