A daily speed read on global trade news
With help from Megan Cassella
A PESSIMISTIC VIEW ON CANADA DEAL TIMING FROM UP NORTH: Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who is vice president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, told Morning Trade he thinks the negotiations could drag on for weeks because of the difficulty Trudeau faces in reaching a deal on dairy before the Oct. 1 election in Quebec.
“I think talks could go on into October. Like the World Series, there are still innings to be played and [we should] expect surprises,” Robertson said.
Quebec is Canada’s largest dairy-producing province, accounting for nearly half of the country’s farms and about 37 percent of its milk production. In addition to the upcoming vote for the Quebec National Assembly, the French-Canadian province will also be a prime battleground in the next federal election, which many expect in October 2019.
To stay in power, the Liberals will have to pick up seats there to offset likely losses in Atlantic, where they currently hold all the seats, and perhaps in British Columbia because of a pipeline controversy, Robertson said.
A Canadian government spokesman did not directly say whether the elections are complicating the talks but told Morning Trade that “the federal government is in touch and consults regularly with provincial and territorial governments on the NAFTA negotiations. In fact, Prime Minister Trudeau held a call with provincial and territorial premiers just over a week ago to update them on progress.”
As for timing, Freeland knows a swift resolution is important, but Canada will take the time needed to get a good deal, an aide said.
Two industry officials — one American and the other Canadian — speaking on the condition they not be identified, doubted the fast-approaching Quebec election was having much impact on the negotiations. “Sure, the Quebec election adds another political angle to it here, but by no means is the political sensitivity new,” the Canadian industry aide said. “I don’t think the Quebec election is going to be holding back things in the ag context.”
Dairy plays both ways with the electorate, Robertson added. “While all Quebec parties fiercely defend supply management. Some producers favor the end of supply management as they think — and I think correctly — that Canadian cheese can be world busters and that we can be as competitive as New Zealand and Australia. Of course there will have to be adjustment assistance. But it is affordable, if costly in the short term, and there is no reason our dairy and poultry can’t be as successful as our beef pork grains and lentils. Mr. Trump may force us to do what we should do,” he said.