International Trade Minister Ed Fast was in Regina last week to meet with agricultural equipment exporters and farmers during Canada’s Farm Progress Show.
The minister hosted an invitation-only roundtable with 25 companies on Friday morning. Following the meeting, he toured some of the show’s exhibits.
“Canada is a relatively small market. Our market is the world. The people that are here displaying their products, almost all of them, most of their sales are to foreign markets. So I’m very pleased to be here to support them, and to also get an idea of the kinds of products that I’m promoting as I travel all around the world opening new markets for them,” says the minister in the video below.
After learning about made-in-Saskatchewan combine straw choppers, Fast took some time to chat with RealAg about the importance of market access for Canada’s export-dependent agriculture sector, including two specific trade issues: Canada’s plan to retaliate unless the U.S. repeals country of origin labeling and the status of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Regarding COOL, he expects punitive tariffs on American imports could be imposed by early-to-mid fall.
“But we don’t have to walk down that road. The Americans have a choice to make. We either live by the rules that we’ve all agreed to live by, or we pay the consequences,” explains Fast.
U.S. Congress also has a decision to make on approving its Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which would give the Obama administration the ability to sign off on a Trans-Pacific trade deal.
“(The TPP is) really about the three North American countries as NAFTA partners now forging new trade opportunities within the Asia-Pacific region. The negotiations are approaching an end-game. We want to make sure the U.S. is able to actually conclude an agreement,” says Fast. “We’re optimistic that will happen.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand and the U.S. are demanding Canada open up its supply managed dairy and poultry sectors as part of the price for admission into the TPP. Fast maintains the Government of Canada “will continue to promote and defend Canada’s system of supply management.”
“It’s about finding the right balance, a balance that really truly reflects the Canadian national interest,” he notes. “We’re confident that the outcome of the TPP will reflect that balance.”