Jim Balsillie fears TPP could cost Canada billions and become worst-ever policy move
By Andy Blatchford
The Canadian Press : November 8, 2015
Jim Balsillie warns that provisions tucked into the Trans-Pacific Partnership could cost Canada hundreds of billions of dollars — and eventually make signing it the worst public policy decision in the country’s history.
After poring over the treaty’s final text, the businessman who helped build Research In Motion into a $20-billion global player said the deal contains “troubling” rules on intellectual property that threaten to make Canada a “permanent underclass” in the economy of selling ideas.
Last month, in the middle of the election campaign, the Conservative government put Canada’s signature on the controversial 12-country pact. The Pacific Rim agreement, which includes the massive American and Japanese economies, has been described as the world’s largest-ever trade zone.
But Balsillie said parts of the deal will harm Canadian innovators by forcing them to play by rules set by the treaty’s most-dominant partner: the United States.
The fallout could prove costly for Canada because technologies created by these entrepreneurs have the potential to create huge amounts of wealth for the economy, he says.
“I’m not a partisan actor, but I actually think this is the worst thing that the Harper government has done for Canada,” the former co-chief executive of RIM said in an interview after studying large sections of the 6,000-page document, released to the public last week.
“I think in 10 years from now, we’ll call that the signature worst thing in policy that Canada’s ever done…
“It’s a treaty that structures everything forever — and we can’t get out of it.”
Balsillie’s concerns about the deal include how it would impose intellectual property standards set by the U.S., the biggest partner in the treaty.
He fears it would give American firms an edge and cost Canadian companies more money because they would have to pay for someone else’s ideas instead their own.
On top of that, Balsillie believes the structure could prevent Canadian firms from growing as it would also limit how much money they can make from their own products and services.
Balsillie, who spent much of his time building RIM by negotiating agreements around the world, called the comprehensive final text a “brilliant piece of literature.”
“It’s such brilliantly systemic encirclement. I’m just in awe at its powerful purity by the Americans…
“We’ve been outfoxed.”
Negotiators ‘failed Canadians,’ says Balsillie
And unlike legislation passed in Parliament, he noted treaties like this one set rules that must be followed forever. This deal, he added, also features “iron-clad” dispute mechanisms.
“I’m worried and I don’t know how we can get out of this,” said Balsillie, who’s also helping guide the creation of a lobby group that would press for the needs of Canada’s innovation sector.
“I think our trade negotiators have profoundly failed Canadians and our future innovators. I really lament it.”
(read the full article at CBC)