December 12, 2017
The Canadian government must engage not only the U.S. executive branch but also Congress and state governments to “increase awareness” about the two countries’ trading relationship, the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on International Trade recommends in a new report.
Among the 28 recommendations in the report on Canadian stakeholders’ priorities in the NAFTA talks and in bilateral trade, the committee wrote that the Trudeau government should “take actions designed to increase awareness, among American legislators, governmental officials, workers, businesses and voters, about the value of the Canada–U.S. trade relationship.”
Canadian officials have, in fact, undertaken significant outreach efforts to U.S. officials since it became clear that the Trump administration was eyeing the deal for significant changes, if not a withdrawal.
Members of Parliament recounted that during a trip to Washington, DC, the committee was told that “all politics is local” in the U.S., “and that a bottom-up approach for raising awareness of the Canada-U.S. trade relationship should be adopted; Canadians should work with U.S. local officials and businesses.”
“During its U.S. fact-finding missions, the Committee was informed that there are opportunities for Canadians to explain the importance of the Canada-U.S. trade relationship, as well as its implications for U.S. businesses and workers,” the report continues.
“Particular mention,” they write, “was made of direct communication with U.S. workers, voters, businesses, legislators and governmental officials, among others.”
The Parliamentary committee also touched on dairy, saying the government should defend Canada’s supply management system. The panel says it “believes that additional access to Canada’s market for imports of U.S. dairy and poultry products would negatively affect Canadian producers of these products, and potentially undermine the stability and viability of the country’s supply-management systems.”
NAFTA talks, the report states, should focus on increasing the competitiveness of North America “as a region.”
On dispute settlement — which includes Chapters 11, 19 and 20, and which is an area where NAFTA negotiators in previous rounds have butted heads — the committee writes that it is “convinced that each NAFTA country must have recourse against any other NAFTA country that acts in a manner that is inconsistent with NAFTA, and that an impartial mechanism for reviewing anti-dumping and countervailing duties orders must exist.”
On an unrelated issue, the negotiations for a new softwood lumber agreement, the committee says it believes the two countries could continue talks to resolve the ongoing dispute.