National Newswatch

Dispute resolution processes also need to be included.


Ottawa—Canada needs to ensure its trading partners cannot resort to non-tariff trade barriers (NTBs) to block Canadian food products before joining any future international trade deals, says Cereals Canada.

Trade negotiators should make sure language governing non-tariff barriers and risk-based scientific assessments are included in a trade deal along with timely and binding dispute resolution processes to reopen borders when barriers are put in place, Cereals Canada said in a brief on behalf of the wheat, durum, barley and oats sector to the Commons trade committee study on NTBs.

NTBs frustrate the potential gain from a free trade agreement. In both future and existing trade deals, Canadian trade officials must increase their focus on ensuring the agreement does not allow for NTBs and or other trade inhibitors, the brief said.

That includes upholding harmonized international standards and the use of scientific risk-based standards relating to Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) tied to scientific risk-based assessments for human and environmental health.

The creation of the Indo-Pacific Agriculture and Agri-food Office (IPAAO) is a good precedent because it “will foster trust and maintain lines of communication that can pre-empt the use of NTBs and help resolve regulatory misalignments as they arise. Such efforts support ongoing engagement in the region and create opportunities for collaborative endeavours between industry and government to achieve positive outcomes for Canada,” the brief said.

“Limiting the use of non-tariff trade barriers will foster a stronger, predictable trade environment that allows food to reach markets where it is needed. Implementing harmonized and science-based regulatory approaches will allow food producers to utilize modern agricultural tools to produce safe and affordable food, contributing to global food security.”

While there is a genuine purpose for use of regulations and other measures to protect food safety and set environmental standards in importing countries, these measures should not mainly intended to protect domestic industry or to favour one exporter over another, the brief said.

“Balancing the legitimate objectives of NTBs while minimizing their negative impact is crucial for promoting fair and sustainable agricultural trade.”

The brief outlined problems with Vietnam’s NTB to prevent the spread of creeping thistle, Italy’s use of Mandatory Country of Origin Labelling to impede imports of Canadian durum and the Presidential Decrees in Mexico that block the use of modern farm inputs there and in countries supplying product to Mexico.

The brief said Canadian cereals faced import restrictions in Peru. “In 2019, Canadian industry, working in conjunction with millers in Peru, as well as the Government of Canada, established a protocol that allows Canadian wheat to be imported with in-country control measures that satisfy Peruvian regulators.”

Additional funding should be available from through the AgriMarketing Program to confront NTBs. In the Peruvian case, a market that has averaged $475 million in annual cereals imports from Canada remains open.

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