Canada Advised to Consider Protecting Agri-Food Sector

Farmscape for October 9, 2019

The Research Lead with Agri-Food Economic Systems says changing trade dynamics could force Canada to consider action to protect its agri-food sector.
A just released Agri-Food Economic Systems Independent Agri-Food Policy Note identifies a return to agricultural protectionism, evolving gaps in trade policy and major geo-political shifts to which Canada will need to respond to protect the future of agri-food.
Dr. Al Mussell, the Research Lead with Agri-Food Economic Systems, says the world is moving away from a rules based system of trade with reliable market access and reliable trade remedies in the event of trade disputes.

Clip-Dr. Al Mussell-Agri-Food Economic Systems:
If some of the big countries in the world, notably the U.S. and China, the number one and number two economies, are moving away from rules based trade and more toward market access where they want to be able to use the leverage of their economic size to facilitate market access or to control it Canada is a loser in that arrangement and we have to worry about that.
Now, if that situation is changing and it really is quite clear that it is, one of the things that we may have to look at is instead of assuming that if we produce a product at a particular spec that we can sell it into a commodity product chain and it will find a home either in domestic or in the export market, maybe we have to think about specific markets that we can serve effectively and utilize our scale and negotiate specific arrangements with them rather than rely on multilateral trading systems through the WTO.
We may actually have to think about elements of protection in some of our sectors.
If we're deviating from rules based trade we may have to not only worry about our market access.
We may also have to worry about protecting ourselves and, outside of supply managed commodities, that has not been top of mind for our sector.

Dr. Mussell says this has come upon us suddenly so we need to determine how to safeguard agri-food.
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Bruce Cochrane.

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