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U.S.-Canada trade deal possible

Graphic News

September 12, 2018 -- Canada and the United States are said to be close to a trade deal if sticking points over Canada’s protected dairy sector, protection of media firms, and a system for settling trade disputes are resolved.

Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland announced a breakthrough this week in talks with the United States on a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement, saying a new deal was now “eminently possible.”

U.S. President Trump has lambasted Canada for protecting its dairy farmers with hefty tariffs, calling it a “disgrace” and blaming it for widespread hardship among American farmers. He has demanded the dismantlement of Canada’s system of supply management in agriculture -- production quotas and import tariffs designed to ensure Canadian dairy, egg and poultry farmers receive fair prices for their products.

An Associated Press fact check concludes that Trump is basically right about the tariffs. Canada allows a small amount of dairy and poultry imports into the country duty-free or at very low taxes. Anything above the faces punitive import duties: Consider 245 per cent tariffs on cheese. And 298 per cent on butter.

The World Trade Organization says Canadian dairy tariffs average nearly 249 per cent, compared with the United States’ 17 per cent.

Despite Canadian barriers the United States last year ran a $474 million trade surplus in dairy with Canada: It exported $636 million in dairy products to Canada and imported $162 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And dairy is barely a blip — 0.1 per cent — in U.S.-Canada trade, which amounted to more than $580 billion last year.

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