Ottawa examines trade deal impacts

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay says the government recognizes the importance of compensation for sectors affected by trade deals, but an announcement would be premature.

The Liberal government has been continually pressed for its stance on the $4.3 billion compensation package that the previous Conservative government announced when the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was negotiated.

The package was to compensate supply managed sectors facing more competition under TPP and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe.

The Treasury Board did not approve the package before the election was called, and last month’s federal budget didn’t contain spending estimates.

MacAulay said the deals must be ratified before compensation would be finalized.

“We’re continually in discussion with industry,” MacAulay told reporters on an April 8 conference call while attending an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ministerial meeting in Paris.

“We’re not trying to avoid it or anything, for sure.”

He said there is concern that the TPP won’t be signed by the United States, which would scuttle the pact.

There is more certainty CETA will be ratified.

Dairy Farmers of Canada president Wally Smith said compensation for the two deals should be considered separately.

In a posting on the organization’s website last week, he said the legal review of CETA has been completed and it appears it will be implemented in 2017.

“The concessions made on CETA alone represent a market loss for farmers and cheese makers of up to $300 million per year, in perpetuity,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, the government continues its consultation on TPP.

Public hearings in Western Canada are scheduled for April 18 in Vancouver, April 19 in Calgary, April 20 in Saskatoon and April 21 in Winnipeg.

People who want to appear can email ciit-tpp-ptp@parl.gc.ca.

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