October 2, 2015
John Weekes, a senior business adviser at Bennett Jones, was Canada’s chief negotiator for NAFTA and is a former ambassador to the WTO. He is a director of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency and provides advice to the National Cattle Feeders’ Association.
As Canada completes the TPP agreement it should be focused on making sure Canadians can meet foreign competition at home and abroad on an even playing field. It is not just tariffs that affect trade but also subsidy programs that distort markets and decisions about where agricultural product should be produced. Such subsidies are already being negotiated in the WTO. Ottawa should press to revitalize these negotiations and at the same time ensure that foreign governments, including the U.S., are respecting their existing subsidy commitments. If necessary, Canada should commit to using the WTO dispute settlement system to make sure they do so.
Securing Canada’s agriculture future requires bold action today. Let’s hope its political leaders are up to the challenge.