The dispute between Canada and the U.S. over the allocation of dairy tariff rate quotas under the new North American trade deal took a step toward resolution this week, as the members of the three-person dispute panel that will issue a ruling on the U.S. complaint were announced.

Elbio Oscar Roselli Frieri will chair the panel, and was appointed by agreement between Canada and the U.S. He was previously Uruguay’s ambassador to Canada. The U.S., meanwhile, appointed Julie Bédard, while Canada named Mark C. Hansen as its appointee to the dispute panel.

The dairy dispute was discussed in meetings between Canada’s trade minister, Mary Ng, and her U.S. counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai this week. The pair met in Washington on Wednesday, before holding a trilateral meeting with their Mexican counterpart in Mexico City on Thursday, marking the first anniversary of the CUSMA or USMCA trade deal.

“I assured Ambassador Tai that Canada takes its international obligations very seriously, and CUSMA is no different. We are confident that we, that Canadians, have complied. That’s what the dispute settlement process is about, and we look forward to letting that process makes its way, and working through the appropriate process,” said Ng, speaking with reporters from Mexico City on Friday.

According to the dispute settlement process laid out in the trade agreement, the panel has 150 days to present an initial report. In cases related to perishable goods, which might include dairy, the panel has 120 days after the date of the appointment of the last panelist.

This is the first panel request filed under Chapter 31 (Dispute Settlement) of the trade deal.

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