Dairy and poultry farmers want Harper government to resist making concessions.
OTTAWA — The federal government is denying a published report that suggests the biggest trade agreement in history could possibly destabilize the supply management system that governs how dairy products and poultry are sold in Canada.
A Globe and Mail report quotes unidentified officials as saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper is resolved to signing the Trans-Pacific Partnership even if it means a surge in imports of duty-free poultry and dairy products.
A spokesman for International Trade Minister Ed Fast, however, says the federal government is committed to defending Canada’s system of supply management.
Rick Roth says the negotiations “are ongoing” and that Harper “will only sign an agreement that’s in Canada’s best interests.”
American negotiators want to pry open the tightly controlled Canadian dairy system that offers protection for the domestic industry, but results in higher prices at the grocery store and less foreign offerings.
The sensitive spots in the trade pact for Canada include agriculture, and successive Canadian governments have left the dairy system alone for fear of incurring rural voters’ wrath.
The government is facing fierce lobbying from dairy and poultry farmers, who want Ottawa to resist making any concessions in the talks.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes 12 countries, including Canada, the US, Mexico and Japan, and covers about 40% of the world’s economy.
© 2015 The Canadian Press