Tag Archives: Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump are to discuss continental trade and their shared challenges with China in a meeting in Washington next week.

The Prime Minister’s Office says the leaders will use next Thursday’s meeting to talk about the ratification of the new North American trade agreement and outstanding trade disputes between Canada and the United States.

The meeting will also give Trudeau and Trump an opportunity to discuss strategy ahead of the G20 leaders’ summit in Japan at the end of the month, which will give them face time with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trudeau and Trump will also talk about two Canadians detained in China for the last six months.

In December, China detained Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in apparent retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of a Chinese high-tech executive on a U.S. extradition warrant.

Canada is caught between its two biggest trading partners on that issue, with Trudeau insisting Canada has to follow the rule of law but having no luck pressing the case with China’s leaders.

Besides the Kovrig and Spavor cases, China has obstructed shipments of Canadian agriculture products such as canola and pork, claiming that they’re ridden with pests or have labelling problems. On Thursday the government promised that Export Development Canada will put up $150 million in additional insurance backing for canola farmers looking to sell in new markets.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence has said Trump will press Xi to release Kovrig and Spavor and will link the plight of the two Canadians to broader trade talks between Washington and Beijing. Global Affairs Canada says Spavor received his eighth consular visit from Canadian diplomats on Thursday, one day after Kovrig’s latest visit.

While Trudeau and Trump have crossed paths at various international events in the last year, and had several telephone conversations, this will be their first substantive meeting since the U.S. president insulted the prime minister a little over a year ago after departing the G7 in Quebec.

The two leaders have continued to engage because both governments needed to wrestle a conclusion out of the often acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump forced on Canada and Mexico.

Now, with the recent removal of U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum imports, there is renewed momentum to ratify the new trade pact.

Mexico’s Senate is expected to give its final legal approval to the new deal next week, but a delicate political dance continues between Ottawa and Washington over ratification. Trudeau has tabled the government’s ratification bill and it is winding its way through Parliament — slowly — ahead of next week’s adjournment of the House of Commons.

Canadian government sources have said the House could be recalled after its summer recess, in a last session before the October federal election, to deal with ratifying the new NAFTA if the U.S. Congress doesn’t deal with the matter promptly. As much as the government wants to move “in tandem” with the U.S. toward final approval of the new agreement, it doesn’t want to get too far ahead.

Some Democrats in the House of Representatives are less enthusiastic about the new deal, and some would like to deny Trump a trade victory. Some Democrats have said they want to see stronger provisions on labour and environmental standards in Mexico but that country’s lawmakers have approved a new labour-reform law that has won plaudits in Ottawa and among many other lawmakers in Washington.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland concluded a two-day visit to Washington on Thursday, meeting two leading Republican and Democratic senators. A day earlier, Freeland discussed trade with U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer and China with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Mexico plans for quick ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, setting the process in motion following action by Canada earlier this week. That leaves the U.S. behind both in the process as the Trump administration has yet to formally introduce the agreement to Congress.

However, the administration was reported to be sending a draft version to Congress Thursday. Vice President Mike Pence visited Canada Thursday to discuss moving the deal forward as Canada formally introduced the agreement to lawmakers earlier this week. Mexico’s President reported the documents were sent to Mexico’s Senate Thursday, and officials from Mexico were hopeful the U.S. would ratify the deal by July, according to the Associated Press. Mexico’s Senate is in recess, but officials say they will seek a special session to consider the agreement.

With the move by the Trump administration Thursday, the U.S. can send the formal agreement to Congress in 30 days. The House must vote on the agreement first, with no amendments, per Trade Promotion Authority. Democrats in the House have questioned provision in the agreement regarding labor and enforcement.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) today urged Congress to support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade agreement; a bipartisan treaty that benefits American farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers by fixing longstanding imbalances and cutting regulations. This trade agreement will grant American farmers and businesses greater freedom to sell their goods and products throughout North America without the interference of government appropriations.

“Failure to bring this approval to the floor would put American farmers and workers at risk. As a nation of free trade, we must do what is best for America,” said Rep. Bacon. “To do this, non-tariff barriers and unfair subsidies must be eliminated and replaced. USMCA offers a fairer playing field for America. Every change in this agreement is better than NAFTA. I urge Congress to bring this to the House floor for approval.”

Rep. Bacon is a member of the House Agriculture Committee which has general jurisdiction over federal agriculture policy including agriculture, forestry, nutrition, water conservation, and other agriculture-related fields. The Committee can recommend funding appropriations for various governmental agencies, programs, and activities, as defined by House rules.

Canada has used a major World Trade Organization gathering to demand China deliver evidence that Canadian canola is contaminated.

Stephen de Boer, the Canadian ambassador to the world’s leading trade body in Geneva, told the WTO’s general council on Tuesday that Canada wants to meet in China in good faith to hear its science-based concerns that recent Canadian canola shipments were, in fact, tainted.

China banned shipments from two Canadian canola companies last month. This week, the government announced China had similarly banned pork from two Canadian companies.

De Boer’s intervention at one of the WTO’s most senior decision-making bodies is an attempt to push China, which has stonewalled requests for Canadian experts to travel to the People’s Republic to examine Chinese evidence on the canola.

The government says two separate inspections by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have turned up nothing, while several cabinet ministers have said China’s complaint about the quality of the canola shipments is not science-based.

China’s rejection of Canadian food products is part of the escalating tensions following the RCMP’s December arrest in Vancouver of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. warrant alleging fraud.

Meng’s arrest infuriated China. Nine days later, China imprisoned two Canadians — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor — and accused them of violating China’s national security. Both are still in custody.

While de Boer’s statement is not the formal complaint that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has urged the government to launch, it represents the first formal opportunity to draw attention to the issue in front of a major meeting of the WTO, said a senior Canadian government official, who was not authorized to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the situation.

China places great importance on being a member in good standing of the WTO, the world’s trade referee, especially as it tries to displace the United States as a global trade leader.

De Boer told the WTO council that Canada wants to be a good trading partner and if another country identifies a problem with a Canadian export, then it wants to find a solution.

Canada has been working hard to resolve this issue with China using every available means on the ground in China and in Canada, said de Boer.

“But to do so we need to fully understand the problem and that’s why it’s important for them to show us the evidence,” said the senior Canadian government official. “Open and predictable rules-based trade is the cornerstone of international commerce. These are tough and difficult moments but it’s frank and open dialogue while standing up for Canadian values and interests that will resolve them.”

While Canada was pressing its case at the WTO, a Nova Scotia cabinet minister said the federal government would welcome American influence to resolve the ongoing dispute with China.

“I would say that it would be helpful, for sure,” Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan said in an interview. “It’s different times now in the world than we’ve faced even four years ago. We see challenges all around the world. And we will continue, as a government, to stand up for our Canadian products.”

The halting of canola and pork imports has also raised the possibility that China could expand what is widely seen as economic retaliation into other areas.

Conservative MP Randy Hoback recently told the House of Commons agriculture committee he’s concerned China might decide to single out Canadian maple syrup or seafood.

Jordan said her constituency is the largest lobster-producing riding in the country, and hardly a day goes by without her talking to a fisher.

In 2017, Canada exported 10 million kilograms of live lobster to China.

Canada’s efforts to diversify its markets for seafood continue apace with the ratification of free-trade deals with the European Union and the 10 Pacific Rim countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, she said.

“Yes, China accounts for a significant portion of our lobster sales — our seafood, it’s not just lobsters. But I think with the ability for us to open up Europe, our ability to open up other Asian markets, there is that potential to make sure that those challenges are mitigated.”

Jordan stressed there has been “absolutely no indication” of any movement by China to take trade action against Canadian seafood.

While she offered few details of what contingency plans the government may have if China does hit the seafood sector, Jordan suggested the government would come to its aid if necessary.

“We’ve worked with the canola farmers specifically on a package for them. I’m sure that when the time comes, if there’s a need, we will be there for our fishers as well.”

Last week, the government helped canola farmers by changing a special agricultural program that advances money against later crop sales. The change raises loan limits to $1 million from $400,000. The interest-free portion of that program is also rising to $500,000 from $100,000.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau told The Canadian Press the government wants to ensure producers “have the support they need” and officials are “dealing with issues that arise on a case-by-case basis.”