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The Trouble with the TPP series this week has focused on issues such as the failure to obtain a full cultural exception and the weak e-commerce rules that do little to assist online businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises. Yet the Canadian digital failure goes even further. While other countries saw the opportunity to use the TPP to advance their domestic online sector through side agreements, Canada remained on the sidelines. Indeed, as some leading critics such as Jim Balsillie have noted, the Canadian government did little to even consult with Canada's technology sector.
Consider a side letter on online education between Australia and Vietnam. The side letter opens the door to technical assistance and pilot programs for online education between the two countries, providing for assistance on distance education delivery models, assessing applications from Australian providers to deliver online education, and work to recognize the qualifications obtained from such courses.
Moreover, the letter states that:
"Vietnam will cooperate with Australia to facilitate a pilot program under which Australian universities would deliver courses in Vietnam that may be delivered wholly or substantially online."
The letter continues with details on the pilot program, which is geared toward enhancing Australia's higher education presence in the country and taking advantage of digital opportunities. This a good strategy for Australia, but raises the question of why Canada failed to take similar steps to make digital inroads in TPP countries.
This piece originally appeared on Michael Geist's blog and is reprinted with permission.
Photo: flickr/ Marco Assini