The Liberal government could introduce legislation as early as Jan. 29
By Diego Flammini
The Canadian government will debate the passing of a trilateral trade agreement with the United States and Mexico when Parliament resumes next week.
“The very first priority, as you know, will be moving forward on the ratification of the new NAFTA,” Prime Minister Trudeau told his Liberal caucus on Thursday. “I look forward to debate on this in the House, I look forward to committees doing their work, but we need to make sure that we move resolutely and rapidly to put into reality this new NAFTA deal that is so good for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”
Canada is the last country to begin its ratification of the new NAFTA, or the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Mexico has already ratified the deal and President Trump’s signature will signal ratification in the U.S.
The deal will come into effect 90 days after all three countries have finalized the agreement.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau is pleased that the trade negotiations are almost complete.
“This is good news for the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the agriculture sector that depend on continued tariff-free access to our largest trading partner," she told Farms.com in an email. "Our government will work closely with all parties to support swift passage of the implementing legislation for the new NAFTA."
Ag trade between Canada and the U.S. is worth more than $50 billion annually, and the USMCA will help the government meet its goal of $75 billion of agri-food exports by 2025, she said.
During the negotiations, Canada conceded about 4 per cent of its dairy market to the United States.
The government is committed to helping producers offset the costs associated with the market loss, Bibeau said.
"For our dairy, poultry and egg producers and processors, just as we are delivering on our commitment to fully and fairly compensate for the impacts of CETA and CPTPP, we will do the exact same once we have ratified the new NAFTA.," she said.
Some members of the opposing parties are supporting an expedited ratification process.
“In my constituency, when it comes to agriculture, getting the new NAFTA agreement done is pretty critical,” said John Barlow, the Conservative agriculture critic, Okotoks Online reported. “We want to ensure we have access to those markets. We’re not necessarily happy with everything in NAFTA …”
Other parties, however, want a more extensive review of the USMCA before it passes.
“I’m concerned about the enforceability, and I want to make sure we do an exhaustive debate (and) a study in committee, to make sure this is a good deal for Canadians,” NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said Wednesday, The Globe and Mail reported.
Dairy Farmers of Canada is also in favour of a thorough review before ratifying the deal.
"The dairy sector was the sacrificial lamb in CUSMA. Our government gave more of our dairy production away, but also set a precedent by agreeing to the equivalent of a world cap on the exports of dairy products," Jacques Lefebvre, CEO of Dairy Farmers of Canada, told Farms.com in an email. "The precedent on the exports that goes beyond the signatories should concern other sectors for future trade negotiations. This is why it is important to have a fulsome consultation as part of the ratification process."
Prime Minister Trudeau's remarks start around the 2:10 mark of the video.