Tony Clement isn’t quite sold on the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement.
That’s the new trade deal the three nations have agreed to which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA was first established in 1994.
Parry Sound-Muskoka’s MP said we need to see what concessions the U.S. government has made since we already know what concessions Canada has made. Among them are changes to all five of the country’s supply-managed farm industries, higher drug costs, and the steel and aluminum tariffs remaining in place.
“There’s a lot of things that are worse than the NAFTA deal in this new deal, but we’d like to know what the Americans gave up because Canadians sure gave up a lot.”
Dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey and broiler hatching eggs and chicks are the five agriculture industries in Canada governed by a supply management system. Clement said the government has made concessions to allow American farmers easier access to the Canadian market, but there is no indication that Canadian farmers will have easier access to the American market.
Reports say some of the supply management concessions made include scrapping the plan that encouraged dairy processors to use Canadian skim milk by keeping its price low, allowing 10 million dozen more egg imports in year one of the USMCA and going up from there, and letting duty-free American turkey into Canada at a rate of 3.5 per cent of the previous year’s production.
“The Trudeau Liberals are saying we still have supply management…so again we want a deal that’s fair to Canada, a deal that’s fair to everybody, but we’re not getting that sense from the Liberal government at present.”
The federal government is already promising “fair compensation” to farmers who experience losses because of the USMCA.
“It shows that this is all about politics,” said Clement. “They promised Canadian farmers they wouldn’t be impacted, of course, they are being impacted, so the first thing they do is open up the taps with tax dollars to compensate farmers. It shows how bad the deal is for Canadians farmers. I’d like to know what the specifics of that are; I don’t necessarily take them at their word that it’s all going to work out for the Canadian farmer. I don’t think that’s going to be the case, actually.”
Analysts are saying alterations to Canada’s patent system for drugs in the USMCA will lead to higher prices down the line. Currently, a drug is protected in Canada for eight years from competition from generic drug manufacturers. That’s going up to 10 years.
“It means higher costs, either for consumers directly or indirectly through your taxes if it’s a drug benefit that’s paid for by the provincial government,” said Clement.
Other concessions Canada gave the U.S. are caps on auto exports from Ontario into America, and an extension of Canada’s copyright term from 50 years after the creator’s death to 70 years, matching the U.S. and Europe’s terms.
“There’s a lot coming to light in just a matter of a few hours that is not going to be good for the Canadian economy,” said Clement.
Clement added “I know that MBRP Inc. and other manufacturers in Muskoka and Parry Sound have been very upset about the uncertainty of not having a trade deal, so that’s good to have a trade deal I suppose. But if a trade deal doesn’t protect Canadian interests, then it ends up being a bad trade deal. Certainly worse than the NAFTA deal we had before.”
The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement will now have to be ratified by the governments of all three countries before taking effect.