Canada sounds optimistic tone on NAFTA talks

Lloyd Doyle
September 12, 2018

There's been growing calls from both sides of the border for Canada to make concessions on its protected dairy sector in order to finally reach a new North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States.

But Wiens said concessions made in Canada's CP-TPP free-trade deal with Pacific nations and the CETA agreement with Europe have already forced his members to give up an extra five per cent of the market - a $250 million loss.

"I think we understand there are certain issues on which we will need to compromise", one of the sources said when asked about increased dairy access for the USA industry.

US dairy farmers have long demanded more access to Canada's market and also are unhappy about a Canadian decision to allow farmers to sell milk protein products to the country's processors at a lower price, cutting off American supplies.

The current NAFTA's dispute resolution mechanism, known as Chapter 19, allows companies that feel their products have been impacted by anti-dumping or countervailing duties to request arbitration.

"We had a very productive, constructive conversation".


Various U.S. officials - including agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue and Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow - have stressed in recent days that the milk issue is integral to a trade deal. "Having said all of that, nothing is done until everything is done", Freeland told reporters.

Dairy farmers are considered a potent political force in Quebec and Ontario, the two provinces where the industry is strongest, and two key battlegrounds in next year's federal election.

"Prime Minister Trudeau is right in that no deal - and waiting for more reason in future - is better than permanently signing onto a feature that guts NAFTA", Holt said.

"Even Canadian concessions on dairy may not be enough to make the USA keep the current dispute resolutions", said Carlos Capistran and Mingzi Yi, economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a note. "It is a truism of trade negotiations that nothing is done until everything is done".

"We've taken those hits for team Canada, and we are determined that there be no further concessions on dairy", said David Wiens, vice president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Lighthizer faces pressure on dairy from U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who wants more Canadian access for milk producers from the northern part of his home state of NY.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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