Monday, July 31, 2017

Canadian Trade Minister visits Idaho

Bryan Searle photo

If NAFTA isn’t broken, be careful how you fix it, says Canadian Ag Minister MacAulay

Boise--Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay met with Lt. Governor Brad Little,  and Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle and other Idaho Ag and trade leaders.

After a week of discussions last week with Northwest lawmakers it was hard for the Minister MacAulay to get away from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"The minister and his staff were very appreciative Idaho and the United States for wanting to work together for mutual benefit," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Searle who attended Fridays meeting at the Idaho Department of Ag.

Searle asked in the meeting if there was anything Canada wanted to addressed or changed in NAFTA. MacAulay said that they were not the ones asking to renegotiate the treaty. But said that they were willing to see what happens and address issues as they arise. For instance he said, NAFTA was negotiated before the internet. He said since there are many technological things that need a closer look, but by and large NAFTA has worked.

“The message I hear on both sides of the border is ‘be sure how you fix something that’s not really broken," MacAulay told reporters after the meeting at the Department of Ag on Friday.

MacAulay spent time in Oregon and Idaho promoting the bilateral trade relationship between Canada and the United States. He also delivered a keynote address at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Summit in Portland and another meeting in Sun Valley.

The meetings were timely with NAFTA renegotiations on the horizon, MacAulay says it’s important to understand the roles Canada, Mexico and the United States play in the agreement’s success.
The Ag minister used an agri-food example to illustrate how all three countries work together to enhance the success of the trade agreement.

“Using a hamburger as an example, let’s say the meat comes from Calgary, the grain for the bun comes from the United States and during the winter the tomato comes from Mexico,” said MacAulay. “Any time someone eats a hamburger, they’re eating something from all three countries.”

The Office of the United States Trade Representative released its negotiation objectives on July 17. The USTR outlined a number of ag-related objectives, including expanding trade markets and eliminating some tariffs.

"Canadians and Americans really do benefit from agricultural trade. Just last year, our countries exchanged more than $47 billion in agriculture and agri-food products. This relationship provides greater access to well-priced, high-quality foods and supports millions of middle-class jobs and strong rural communities on both sides of our border. My job is to work hard with all levels of government in the U.S. to ensure that the agriculture sector in North America continues to grow, and the best way to do that is by continuing to share a strong and open dialogue," said MacAulay.

MacAulay is confident US Ag Secretary Perdue’s previous experiences can help the negotiations progress smoothly.

“There’s absolutely no question Sonny Perdue knows the value of trade and appreciates the value of trade,” he said. “He's been a Governor for two terms and he’s a politician that’s fully aware of the value of NAFTA.”

Idaho Ag Director  Lt. Governor Little know the value of Canadian trade to Idaho. Trade north of the Idaho border means nearly a half billion dollars in trade year year and more than 32-thousand jobs.

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