Canada to defend ‘supply management’ in NAFTA talks | TheFencePost.com

Canada to defend ‘supply management’ in NAFTA talks

Chrystia Freeland

Canada will defend its system of "supply management" in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a speech in Ottawa, which was on Facebook.

In a long, philosophical speech, Freeland said Canada wants to modernize NAFTA, but in one of its objectives, "Canada will uphold and preserve the elements in NAFTA that Canadians deem key to our national interest, including a process to ensure anti-dumping and countervailing duties are only applied fairly when truly warranted — the exception in the agreement to preserve Canadian culture — and Canada's system of supply management."

Freeland did not elaborate on the products the supply management would apply, but Canada has traditionally had dairy and poultry supply management systems.

Freeland also said Canada's negotiating strategy "will be informed by the ideas in (the Canadian Europe Free Trade Agreement)," which raises the possibility of geographic indications.

In CETA, Canada agreed to follow the European system of requiring certain products, particularly cheeses, carry place names only if the product is made where it originated. The U.S. dairy industry is opposed to the strict geographic indicators the European countries have promoted.

MORE PROGRESSIVE

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In a statement likely to thrill some American groups and alarm others Freeland said, "We can make NAFTA more progressive first by bringing strong labor safeguards into the core of the agreement. Second by integrating enhanced environmental provisions to ensure no NAFTA country weakens environmental protection to attract investment, for example, and that fully supports efforts to address climate change. Third by adding a new chapter on gender rights, in keeping with our commitment to gender equality. Fourth, in line with our commitment to improving our relationship with Indigenous peoples, by adding an Indigenous chapter, and finally by reforming the Investor-State Dispute Settlement process, to ensure that governments have an unassailable right to regulate in the public interest."

Freeland said the progressive aspects are important, notably the environmental and labor parts, to make sure, "NAFTA will not only be an exemplary free trade deal, it will also be a fair trade deal."

Freeland did not focus on agriculture, but used food references in the speech.

Freeland noted Canada will seek a freer market for government procurement and said, "Local-content provisions for major government contracts are political junk-food, superficially appetizing, but unhealthy in the long run."

In her conclusion, Freeland likened "modernizing" the agreement to living in your house while it's being renovated.

"The end result — a nicer kitchen, perhaps, or an energy retrofit — is terrific. But getting there can be a little messy and uncomfortable. And there are going to be moments, when walls are opened up and pipes and wiring get exposed, that can be a little unsettling."

Freeland also said if the United States pushes Canada to end supply management for dairy, its negotiators will remind U.S. negotiators the U.S. dairy industry gets government support, Politico reported.

Canada will not accept a weak agreement and could walk away from the negotiations, according to early media reports.❖

Law firm posts NAFTA-TPP comparison

Stewart and Stewart, a trade-focused law firm, posted a side-by-side comparison of provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Some lobbyists suggested the TPP agreement should be used as a basis for NAFTA renegotiation.

— The Hagstrom Report

55 ag school deans endorse NAFTA, retention of exports

There were 55 deans of agriculture at public and land-grant universities who voiced support for the NAFTA, and stressed the importance of exports.

The letter was organized by the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities.

“Because of the importance of agricultural exports to both the farm and U.S. economies, we, the deans/administrators of our nation’s public and land-grant colleges of agriculture, strongly support the continued robust export of U.S. agricultural products to Mexico and Canada facilitated by NAFTA. We also urge our trade negotiators to seek opportunities to expand such trade in your upcoming discussions with representatives from Canada and Mexico. Agricultural exports are critical to rural America and the whole country,” the letter stated.

— The Hagstrom Report