Dairy farmers pan new trade agreement

The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON–Canadian dairy farmers have panned the renegotiated trade pact between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, saying the new deal will undercut the industry by limiting exports and opening up the market to more American products.
Dairy Farmers of Canada issued a terse statement almost immediately after the 11th-hour agreement was announced late yesterday following 14 months of difficult negotiations between the parties.
The organization said the newly-minted U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, or USMCA, will grant an expanded 3.6 percent market access to the domestic dairy market and eliminate competitive dairy classes, which the group says will shrink the Canadian industry.
It said the measures will have “a dramatic impact not only for dairy farmers but for the whole sector.”
“This has happened despite assurances that our government would not sign a bad deal for Canadians,” Pierre Lampron, president of Dairy Farmers Canada, said in the statement.
“We fail to see how this deal can be good for the 220,000 Canadian families that depend on dairy for their livelihood.”
U.S. administration officials said the deal provides increased access to Canada’s dairy market for U.S. producers and limits the American impact of Canada’s controversial supply management system for dairy and poultry products.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau only would say it was a “good day for Canada” as he left a late-night cabinet meeting in Ottawa that capped several days of frenetic long-distance talks that included Foreign Affairs minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton.
U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter early today to praise what he called an “historic” deal that came just before U.S. and Mexican trade authorities were set to publish their own trade agreement without Canada as a signatory.
The deal appears to preserve the key dispute-resolution provisions–Chapter 19, which allow for independent panels to resolve disputes involving companies and governments, as well as Chapter 20, the government-to-government dispute settlement mechanism.
A side letter published along with the main text of the agreement exempts a percentage of eligible auto exports from the tariffs.
Canada fought hard to retain Chapter 19, a holdover from NAFTA that U.S. trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer worked tooth-and-nail to eliminate.
“USMCA will give our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in our region,” Freeland and Lighthizer said in a joint statement.
Federal cabinet ministers were summoned to a late Sunday meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office near Parliament Hill while the White House convened its own late-night trade briefing conference call just an hour before the midnight deadline.

In Ottawa, PMO officials said there would be another cabinet meeting today and a news conference likely, as well.