Canada facing trade challenges on two different fronts

Trade has been front-and-centre lately between Canada and the U.K., as well as with India.

Starting with the United Kingdom, Canada is in the middle of bi-lateral trade talks with them, but there is a barrier – the U.K.’s refusal to accept Canada’s food safety standards on beef and pork.

Another concern is Canada announcing in July of their support of the U.K. into the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), despite the barriers in place.

Vice President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture Todd Lewis says there is a lot of moving parts to this issue.

“From Canada’s viewpoint…allowing Britian into the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, what it does is it also puts other goods at risk if they’re not following the rules on compliance with Canadian agriculture products,” Lewis explains. “So there will be different times during that trade relationship where we’ll put forward complaints against the British, and if they’re tied into a trade agreement where other countries bring sanctions against them if they don’t follow the rules within the framework of the agreement, it may be a better leverage point for Canada”

Three Canadian Cattle Groups implore Canada to delay the U.K.’s acceptance into the CPTPP until those trade barriers are removed.

Meanwhile with India, a trade mission led by Federal Minister of International Trade Mary Ng was set for October 9th, but was ultimately postponed last week for unclear reasons.

Relations between Canada and India were already strained then, and now with India being accused of playing a role in the killing of a prominent B.C. Sikh leader, that relationship is likely more strained.

Speaking before the allegations came to light yesterday (Mon), Lewis hopes a deal can be made when things calm down.

“At the end of the day, we have what India wants when it comes to food and food-products. It’s a huge market and Canada has some of the best products in the world, and we hope to see it shiipped to India so that they’re people can have it.” he said.

Following the postponement of the trade mission to India, Saskatchewan Trade Minister Jeremy Harrison released a statement Friday, again before the allegations surfaced, expressing his disappointment of the announcement.

Harrison further stated that Saskatchewan, which has a trade office in India, will continue to look after its interests internationally if the Trudeau government will not.

On Tuesday, Harrison provided the following statement to 620 CKRM:

“The Government of Saskatchewan had at no time been made aware of any concerns, security or otherwise, with respect to India by the federal government. These are very serious allegations and if proven need to be taken seriously. I am hopeful that the federal government will have had rock solid facts and evidence to back allegations of such a serious and far reaching nature. If they have such information they have not shared it with the Government of Saskatchewan and, in fact, all we have heard has been through the media.

With respect to the EPTA after numerous requests for a rationale, including well before the Prime Minister’s travel to India and Canada walking away from trade negotiations with India, the federal government repeatedly said it was to take pause to make sure Canadians get the best deal.

If this was the reason trade negotiations were suspended, the federal government should have made that information available to provinces and territories and had numerous opportunities to do so.”

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