by SUSAN MANN
Ontario welcomes the agreements including a new trade facilitation package reached at the World Trade Organization’s Ninth Ministerial conference in Asia last week.
Mark Cripps, spokesperson for Agriculture Minister and Premier Kathleen Wynne, says by email the trade facilitation agreement will promote a more efficient and predictable trade rules based system of international trade that will help Ontario farmers and exporters maximize opportunities in international markets.
“Ontario welcomes this positive outcome in Bali and future negotiations towards meaningful multilateral agriculture reform,” Cripps says.
The agreement was reached in Bali, Indonesia Saturday. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says in a Dec. 7 press release the ministers also reaffirmed calls for the elimination of export subsidies and a reduction in the maximum repayment period for exports credits. The trade facilitation agreement represents the World Trade Organization’s first multilateral trade deal to be concluded since the WTO was established in 1995.
“The momentum generated from this positive outcome in Bali is expected to re-invigorate negotiations on meaningful agriculture reform,” the release says.
The WTO’s Doha Round of negotiations, launched in 2001, hasn’t produced a broad agreement to date and was declared deadlocked by ministers in 2011. But the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says in a Dec. 7 press release the Bali package gives the Doha Round a much-needed boost.
Bob Seguin, executive director of the George Morris Centre, says the trade facilitation deal addresses how the entire process of importation and exports are handled with a move to reduce the amount of idiosyncrasies, ad hoc programs and “maybe even some abuse as some importers or exporters will perceive it. It’s an effort to standardize, put in clear rules for transparency, notification and consistency” so one exporter to a country is treated the same as another exporter.
For the Canadian exporters, if they were exporting to a lesser-developed country “over time this will give them the assurance that the process of exporting to that country is handled properly, consistently and the rules are clear; they’re identified and they don’t vary day-by-day,” Seguin says.
In addition to the province of Ontario, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association also welcomes the deal saying in its release the trade facilitation agreement places new disciplines on customs procedures that can often restrict international goods movement. The beef trade can be impacted by duplication of import inspections, paperwork along with onerous service and user fees but this deal could ease those bottlenecks and irritants.
Cattlemen’s officials weren’t available for comment.
As for dairy farmers, Thérèse Beaulieu, spokesperson for Dairy Farmers of Canada, says by email “we do not see the strategy recently unveiled as having anything to do with supply management.” BF