NAFTA’s ag representatives are currently meeting in Georgia
By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada are meeting in Perdue’s home state of Georgia to strengthen trade relationships as NAFTA renegotiations approach.
“It’s well understood (by) the North American ministers and secretaries that NAFTA has been a very valuable asset to the three countries,” Minister MacAulay told reporters during a June 21 conference call. “We wish to make sure it continues in that manner.”
American representatives highlighted concerns surrounding Canadian dairy, wheat grading and a British Columbia wine issue.
And if supply management does come up during trade talks, the Canadian Government will defend the industry.
L to R: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay and Mexican Minister of Agriculture Jose Calzada.
“We are the party that fought to put supply management in place and we’re the government that’s going to defend it,” MacAulay said.
Canada’s approach appears to be reactionary but not defensive, according to MacAulay. He didn’t give any specifics about what Canada may be seeking during the negotiations.
“What we have to do is just see how the table is set,” he said. “Are we defensive? No. We’re ready to sit down and negotiate.
“There’s always issues to deal with but we want to make sure it’s a fair and open playing field.”
When it comes time to meet at the negotiation table, those responsibilities will fall upon the trade negotiators, MacAulay said.
But his job remains the same.
“My job is to make sure I put more money in the pockets of farmers and that’s exactly what I want to do.”
Secretary Perdue and Minister Calzada will visit Canada later this year to continue talks, MacAulay said.
NAFTA renegotiations are scheduled to begin August 16.