National | Letters

Letter to Prime Minister urging Canada not to sign new NAFTA agreement in its present form

November 29, 2018

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau P.C., M.P.,
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

Re: NFU urges Canada to not sign new NAFTA agreement on November 30, 2018

The National Farmers Union (NFU) urges Canada not to sign the new NAFTA agreement in Buenos Aires on November 30 as planned. It has recently come to light that the published text contains clauses regarding dairy tariff-setting authority that differ from what Canadian negotiators agreed upon. Also, we have heard that Canada did not agree with naming the agreement “USMCA”. Signing a trade agreement is a significant act, which sets in motion commitments that will affect the future of Canada, including the livelihoods of our farmers and the ability of young people to become farmers. The fact that a final negotiated text of this agreement may not exist or has not been made public is a very serious matter.

In addition to our grave concern that an unapproved version or unpublished final document could be signed, the NFU is concerned about the impacts on farmers and the food system of the new NAFTA, or United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA). It would severely damage our supply management system, which is the envy of struggling dairy farmers in the United States and around the world. The agreement would also compromise the quality control system that is the foundation of the Canada’s international reputation for premium quality grain exports, and it would allow undue corporate influence over our seed registration system. With the USMCA’s ongoing renegotiation process starting in year six, we believe the dynamics of such talks could accelerate the destruction of our supply management, grain grading and seed registration systems.

In addition, we are concerned about the paragraph that commits Canada to work with the USA and Mexico at the WTO to undermine agriculture programs in other countries. USMCA Article 3.3: International Cooperation says “The Parties shall work together in the World Trade Organization to promote increased transparency and to improve and further develop multilateral disciplines on the three pillars of agricultural trade (domestic support, export competition and market access) with the objective of substantial progressive reductions in agriculture support and protection resulting in fundamental reform.” Article 3.3 indicates that by signing the USMCA, Canada will attack other countries’ domestic supports in pursuit of fundamental reform that puts markets and competition before livelihoods and community.

Therefor we urge you to not authorize the signing of the new NAFTA/USCMA on November 30 in Buenos Aires.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Katie Ward, President
National Farmers Union

CC Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs

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