Canada may not have gained any additional market access but it didn’t concede any either
By Diego Flammini
The Canadian ag sector is okay with the provisions set out in a recent trade agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom.
The two countries signed the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement on Nov. 21.
Britain’s pending exit from European Union on Jan. 1, 2021 and as a result, removal from the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), Canada and other trading partners will have to negotiate new trade deals with the U.K.
“It’s absolutely paramount that we preserve the relationship with the U.K., Chris van den Heuvel, second vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, told Farms.com. “Carrying the CETA details over to this new agreement in the interim is a good way to ensure trade continues as the two countries work towards a new agreement.”
Britain was Canada’s third-largest customer for agri-food products in 2018. That year, Canada exported more than $214 million worth of food products to the U.K.
And during CETA negotiations, Canada conceded about 1.4 per cent of its dairy market.
That number will not change, a federal trade representative said.
Canada “did not provide any new market access opening for any supply-managed products,” Youmy Han, press secretary for Mary Ng, the federal minister of small business, export promotion and international trade, told Farms.com in a statement.
In August 2019 the federal government announced it wouldn’t make any further dairy market concessions in trade negotiations.
And on Nov. 24 of this year, Bloc Quebecois MP Louis Plamondon introduced Bill C-216, which would amend the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act to prevent the minister from making any commitments in trade deals related to dairy, poultry or eggs.
What the continuity agreement between Canada and U.K. does do, is preserve tariff elimination on 98 per cent of Canadian products exported to the U.K. and promotes cooperation and transparency on sanitary and phytosanitary-related measures, Han added.
The Canadian ag sector plan to use this interim agreement to examine parts of CETA that need improvement.
The beef and pork sectors haven’t received the full benefits of the agreement because of trade barriers, van den Heuvel said.
“We really need the government to step up and renegotiate parts of the deal that have non-tariff barriers in place that prevent our products from going to Europe,” he said. “The deal on that side is pretty lopsided and we’re unable to capitalize on the opportunities there. If we’re using CETA as the template, then hopefully any changes to CETA can be brought forward in an agreement with England or vice versa.”
Full free trade negotiations between Canada and the United Kingdom are expected to take place sometime in 2021.
The federal government is committed to ensuring a fair agreement that benefits Canadian farmers, Han said.
“Our government will always stand up for the agriculture industry, and will continue to ensure our trade deals work for all Canadians,” she said. “We look forward to returning to the negotiating table soon to reach a comprehensive and more ambitious pact that further removes tariffs and non-tariff barriers for agriculture producers.”