March 8, 2018 – Canada is expected to announce today the start of formal free trade negotiations with the four-country South American trade bloc known as Mercosur. That announcement will come after Canada formally signs the reconstituted and much larger Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement later today in Santiago, Chile. The signing of the new 11-country TPP marks the culmination of a massive salvage operation that kicked into gear after Trump pulled the United States out of the deal immediately after being sworn into the Oval Office last January. The new TPP — known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — will give Canada access to a market of 1.7 billion people, comprising 13 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product. Mercosur is much smaller — just 260 million consumers — but would deliver Canada a deal with Brazil, the biggest country in the Mercosur bloc, which also includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.