What about that new 12-country trade deal that Canada wants in on?
Trade ministers met in Hawaii in the last week of July to hammer out an agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But is it good for Canada?
It all depends on who you talk to. Supply management farmers have the most to fear as other countries want Canada to pull the plug on quota. Some dairy farmers have issued doomsday scenarios saying that without protective marketing boards, they’ll be out of business. Others argue, that if push comes to shove, Canada will at the very least provide farmers with a buyout — or soft landing. One cautious farmer told Farmers Forum that dairy farmers will survive no matter what happens but in a worst-case scenario “there are no soft landings.”
The non-supply managed agriculture sector sees TPP as a great opportunity to increase exports. Says the Grain Growers of Canada: “Put simply, participating in the TPP is vital to our economy. If we remain in status quo, there is much to lose, while our competitors reap the benefits of preferential market access. This means that Canadian farmers will be at a competitive disadvantage to other countries and we simply cannot afford to let that happen.”
Says the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association: “With a TPP agreement in place, Canada could eventually double or triple beef exports to Japan.”
The Canadian Pork Council is just as adamant: “If Canada was left out of a TPP that includes Japan, Canadian pork producers would lose about $5 per animal and the volume of pork exports to Japan would in short order decrease almost 40 % — that’s $330 million in sales.”
Here’s what ag pundits and prognosticators are saying.
“Canadian participation should really be a no-brainer, but Canada will likely be asked to make decisions at an inconvenient time. Inconvenient because these decisions will need to be made before Oct. 19, which is election day in Canada for those who are not political junkies.”
— Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada
“Any federal government serving the interests of all Canadians should not rule out the possibility of making changes to supply management. Exactly what changes will be needed to get a deal at TPP? Should affected producers be compensated for some of their losses? If so, how would that be done?”
— Western Canadian agricultural journalist Kevin Hursh
“Virtually every commentary and speech about the TPP negotiations cites supply management as a big hurdle for Canada. It was as if there were no other issues other than assured access to growing Pacific markets for crop growers and livestock producers. Now Japan has identified Canadian restrictions on raw log exports as a change it wants as part of the deal.”
— Alex Binkley, Ottawa-based national affairs ag writer
By the numbers
12 Number of countries negotiating the TPP
4 Number of days in late July that trade ministers met in Hawaii to discuss the TPP
1 Earliest date in August that the optimistic prognosticators say a TPP agreement could be signed
800 Number in millions of people that could be affected by the TPP
40 Per cent of the world’s economy that the TPP represents