MANILA, Phillipines (Reuters) — The new Liberal government is reviewing a $4.3 billion package designed to compensate farmers for losses they might incur under a new Pacific trade deal, trade minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters.
Freeland’s remarks add to the uncertainty over whether the Liberals will ratify Canada’s participation in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which was negotiated by the previous Conservative government.
The Liberals say they are examining the 6,000 page document and want to consult Canadians before making a decision.
Any move to change the 15-year compensation package would most likely anger Canada’s powerful dairy and poultry sectors, which say they need protection from international producers.
“We are reviewing now what the compensation plans will be … we appreciate the important of compensation to sectors affected by the TPP,” Freeland told reporters on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit Nov. 18.
“It would be very inappropriate for us right now to commit to specific packages given that we’re actually reviewing the agreement overall,” she added.
News of the $4.3 billion compensation package helped mute protests to the TPP agreement from the farm sector. Some of the money is also slated to help farmers who might suffer from a free trade deal signed with the European Union.
Freeland said other TPP nations had shown “great understanding” for the new Canadian government’s insistence that it needed to reexamine the deal.
The TPP would be a signature landmark for U.S. president Barack Obama, who earlier in the day said the pact was a good deal economically.
The U.S. Congress must approve the pact before it can take effect, but lawmakers in the United States are lukewarm toward the deal.