Just leave it alone. Don’t ask for too much and jeopardize a deal that could potentially be finalized this weekend.
That’s what Canadian agriculture groups representing farmers who depend on trade are telling the Ottawa as leaders from the remaining 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries head to Vietnam.
The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance sent a strongly-worded warning to the federal government on Tuesday, following reports that Canada is pushing for changes to the TPP text.
A senior government official told The Canadian Press that Canadian negotiators are seeking modifications in several areas, including the text that applies to Canada’s supply management system for dairy, poultry and eggs.
CAFTA says Ottawa should not be pushing for changes to market access provisions, which were established before the U.S. withdrew from the deal.
“We are disturbed by news reports that the Canadian government is looking to make significant changes to a deal that’s already been negotiated,” says Brian Innes, CAFTA president, in a news release issued Tuesday. “We have a small window of opportunity. Demanding changes to the market access provisions could jeopardize the entire agreement.”
The original TPP text would have opened up 3.25 percent of the Canadian dairy market, as well as 2.3 percent for eggs, 2.1 percent for chicken, 2 percent for turkey and 1.5 percent for broiler hatching eggs.
Even small changes to the market access terms could throw off the balance between the remaining 11 countries and result in a collapsed deal, says CAFTA.
“Ninety per cent of Canadian farmers and about a million jobs in the agri-food sector depend on world markets. With our competitors already ahead of us in Japan, we can’t afford to lose this agreement,” notes Innes, referring to free trade agreements Australia, Mexico and Chile have with Japan.
There’s speculation that leaders from the TPP countries, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, could announce some form of an updated TPP deal later this week on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Vietnam. U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping are also scheduled to attend the meetings in Vietnam.