The new year begins with Canada relying on an old strategy for saving the North American Free Trade Agreement
Three cabinet members are in the United States this week to promote trade, and more are expected to head south as part of Ottawa’s renewed charm offensive.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is in Kentucky for a series of meetings with high level officials, including Gov. Matt Bevin.
The U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, who is from Kentucky, will also be at the meetings.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is in California for two days to discuss clean technology and trade.
And starting Friday, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay will be in Tennessee for three days, attending the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual trade show.
Two government sources tell CBC News that more ministers and MPs will be taking part in the charm offensive, amid the tense NAFTA renegotiation process.
The Liberal government launched the strategy about a year ago, with key members of the prime minister’s inner circle meeting with hundreds of American politicians over the past 12 months.
Canadian officials used the meetings to highlight the number of American jobs that depend on trade with Canada, and to lobby for wide support of NAFTA.
Trump to speak with farmers
Canadian officials said on Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to speak to delegates at the farming trade show that MacAuley is attending.
The president could be facing a difficult audience, as his threats to kill NAFTA have not been entirely welcomed by the U.S. farming community.
His own agricultural secretary, Sonny Perdue, has acknowledged the trade deal has been good for the U.S. farming industry, and farming lobbyists have been some of the loudest advocates to save the agreement.
But Canada and the U.S have different views on the dairy farming industry, which has made it a contentious point in negotiations so far. The Americans wants the sector brought into the free trade agreement and have asked Canada to eventually dismantle its supply management quota system.
Farmers in the U.S. have long complained about Canadian dairy regulations. Canada has said it will protect supply management.
Canadian officials will be watching Trump’s comments closely next week, as they continue to prepare for the next round of talks.
Source : Canadian Meat Business