Ag-exporters support Canada’s drive to revive the WTO

Rules-based trade is critical for agri-food sector: CAFTA

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Canada’s agricultural exporters are praising the federal government for heading the drive to revive the World Trade Organization.

“We are pleased to see (International Trade Diversification) Minister (Jim) Carr leading important discussions to maintain and modernize our multilateral trading system,” said Brian Innes, the president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, recognizing work happening during Paris meetings of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in late May.

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“It’s critical to Canada’s agri-food sector that we maintain rules-based trade.”

CAFTA describes the WTO as “the best forum for creating a trading system that’s fair to all,” and as “the only forum to effectively address agricultural domestic subsidies.”

It was also the body that ended the United States country of origin labelling requirements that amounted to a non-tariff barrier for many Canadian products.

The WTO has been weakened by U.S. refusal to appoint judges to adjudicate disputes, and undermined by China’s status as a “developing nation” that allows it to play by different rules than those governing developed nations, like Canada.

The U.S. has begun a trade war with China that sees the two economic giants battle over trade access, intellectual property protection and raw economic and geopolitical power.

That has left countries like Canada trying to preserve the “rules-based international order.” The implementation of the revised Trans Pacific Partnership (now the CPTPP) and the ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) trade deal with Europe has seen Canada come to the fore in terms of embracing free trade.

Conservative and Liberal federal governments have been keen courters of increased trade access and new trade deals with foreign players.

The term “rules-based international order” is commonly invoked by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Carr, as International Trade Minister said he supports better trade relations around the world.

CAFTA said it is pleased to see Canada helping reform the WTO’s dispute resolution system, reforming its governance and improving the organization’s multiplayer negotiating process.

Canada’s active role is recognized in the term “the Ottawa Group,” which refers to countries committed to preserving and improving the WTO.

“We are pleased that Canada and the other Ottawa Group countries are leading the effort to keep the world’s trading system fair, predictable and rules-based,” said Innes.

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