There a great number of trade files open in Canada, with officials focused on Japan and Asia Pacific with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP); the ongoing negotiations surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); and the European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), just to name a few.
“I can’t really remember a time where there was more going on on the trade negotiation front than there is right now,” says John Masswohl, director of government and international relations with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “And I think we need to look at them all together — I think all of these other options are about diversification and about strengthening our hand, and a little bit of leverage as well.”
But with news emerging this week of U.S. President Donald Trump threatening reciprocal taxes, followed by conflicting messages from White House staff, confusion over the U.S. stance is spreading, and there’s still concern that they will simply withdraw from NAFTA.
Masswohl believes it’s important to take the potential loss of the U.S. seriously, and to prepare for other options. For beef, he says, that might mean looking at processing animals here, and finding market access for specific cuts.
The CPTPP could also offer Canadians access to markets like Asia, without the U.S. at the heels.
“We want to be ahead of the Americans,” says Masswohl. “I think everybody in that agreement was thinking that eventually the U.S. would be in it. And most of the partners, that’s the reason they did this agreement.”
- MacAulay non-committal on dairy program to offset CPTPP concessions
- Meat label policy changed, a step closer to opening pork access to EU
He adds there’s a diference this time around — new coming-into-force provisions outline that the deal will come into force 60 days after six members agree.
“So we’ve gotta make sure that there’s a legislative strategy here in Ottawa for Canada to be one of those first six.”
Listen to the full discussion between RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s John Masswohl, as they cover trade, confidence levels going into round seven of NAFTA, and the fine print behind trade agreements: