Thursday, 14 December 2017 06:57

Future of agriculture trading in danger with new U.S. plans?

Written by  Demi Knight
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Vice President of Government Relations for the Canola council of Canada, and President of the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), Brian Innes took to the stage at the farming smarter conference to talk about Canada's trading future. Vice President of Government Relations for the Canola council of Canada, and President of the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), Brian Innes took to the stage at the farming smarter conference to talk about Canada's trading future. Demi Knight

Could Canada be seeing big changes with their trading future as Donald Trump sets his sights on different agreements in the near future?


The Farming Smarter Conference held Dec. 5-6 at Lethbridge’s exhibition centre, allowed the president of the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) to talk about the unsure fate of Canada and its agricultural trade with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) due to new bilateral approaches proposed by the United States.
“It might seem obvious that trade helps our economy, especially in agriculture, trade means a lot to us, and there’s a lot of people that think we should trade,” explained Brian Innes, Vice President of Government Relations for the Canola council of Canada, and President of the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), as he took the stage to talk about Canada’s agri-food future with the new free-trade discussions taking place.
“But that opinion is not always shared, there’s also a perception that trade is done by wealthy people to take advantage of us and now we’re facing an interesting time in trade.”
As discussions move forward to determine the fate of NAFTA and the agri-food business, Innes gave a detailed presentation to update concerned and interested people heavily involved in the agriculture industry within southern Alberta this week at the Farming Smarter conference, on the possible fate of their trading economies.
With the current political turmoil that the United States have seen upon issues such as Free Trade, Innes touched on the topic of Donald Trump and the U.S spouting talk of an ‘America First’ approach that caters solely to giving and taking to fully supply the United States before addressing the needs of other countries within the agreement such as Canada and Mexico.
“We are a medium size economy, and we do best when the rules work for everybody, however these new U.S approaches have caused friction,” said Innes during his presentation on why the current talk is of concern to Canada and their import and export business.
Along with talk of this new bilateral deal which opposes the present multilateral plan that NAFTA currently follows, Innes also addressed the other option Trump has laid on the line, which would see the United States withdrawing from NAFTA all together.
But why would the United States with-drawing from NAFTA or creating new bilateral deals within the existing organization cause such a commotion for the Canadian and specifically the southern Albertan Agriculture industry?
Well, with NAFTA being the largest free trade area, that caters to four-hundred million people, since it came into action in 1994 it has helped to double Canada’s GDP, and integrate supply chains.
More importantly for southern Alberta, it has grown the agri-food business exports by five-times, which is a key industry for many people across the Prairie lands.
So, the importance of NAFTA for the Canadian economy is quite vital, as it removes expensive tariffs and quotas initially attached to trading and creates a flourishing and balanced system across all of north America in its current state.
With these points in mind, Innes moved his presentation into a discussion about what Canada’s options would be if the U.S finalized a motion that would ultimately cause a deficit to Canada through NAFTA or by leaving NAFTA all together.
Innes said that ultimately this would mean Canada would have to look into having access without trade barriers to other parts of the world such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) or the china free trade agreement.
However, Innes added that no final decisions have yet been made, and although there are many options to explore in the wake of the possible changes, CAFTA is staying engaged with political leaders, negotiators and stakeholders to look out for the agriculture industry that is vital to many across the Prairie lands and the country as a whole.
“Right now, we have two paths,” said Innes of the commotion NAFTA could be facing in the near future.
“One that’s going pretty well and focusing on modernizing NAFTA to make trade work better for everyone. Our other path with the new approaches from the U.S first viewpoint for Canada and especially our agriculture industry, is not going so well.”

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