Nov 25, 2015
A brief side letter to November’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is creating confusion between its signatory countries – Japan and Canada. Although not legally binding, the short four hundred-word document represents an understanding between the Governments of Japan and Canada, drawn up during negotiations regarding trade in forest products. In addition, the side letter refers to the commitment to create a Bilateral Forestry Committee on Forest Products, which, five years after the TPP’s date of entry into force, would review related trade mechanisms annually. The committee is also designed to serve as an informal forum for dispute resolution.
While both B.C. and Ottawa claim the side letter maintains the status quo – which allows the export of logs from B.C. only when they are surplus to the requirements of local mills – several Japanese publications have pointed to an easement of log export restrictions. This follows Japanese pressure earlier in the year to lift or soften some of the restrictions on B.C. log exports.
Quoted in Embassy, Canada’s Foreign Policy Newspaper, Osler’s Riyaz Dattu, who specializes in International Trade and Investment Law, said the side letter essentially promises to Japan that Canada will continue allowing the export of logs that have passed the surplus test.
If you subscribe to Embassy online, you can find out more by reading Peter Mazereeuw’s article “Canada, Japanese importers at odds over TPP side deal” November 25, 2015.