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Easter Calls on Trade Minister to be More Aggressive on Growing U.S. Protectionism

Easter Calls on Trade Minister to be More Aggressive on Growing U.S. Protectionism

Posted on September 9, 2011

HUNTER RIVER, P.E.I — Liberal International Trade Critic, Wayne Easter, has called for a more aggressive response by the Harper government to a recently released interim report from the World Trade Organization (WTO), which supports the Canadian position opposing provisions of the U.S. Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) legislation. The report found that the use of COOL has seriously impacted access to the U.S. market of Canadian beef and pigs, and represents an unfair trade practice.  The final report is scheduled for release this fall.

“As a result of the position taken by the WTO, I have written to the Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, requesting an update on the position the Harper government will take in response to this report,” said Mr. Easter. “Specifically, I am calling upon the Minister to more aggressively raise the issue of the negative impact these U.S. protectionist measures have, not only upon Canadian interests but U.S. interests as well, with his American counterparts. Our livestock sector, for one, has become highly integrated over the past number of years and efforts such as the use of COOL should be seen for what it has become: a protectionist measure and nothing more.”

Mr. Easter also reiterated the importance of the U.S. market.

“The Harper Government has been pursuing free trade deals while it apparently has been forgetting that, unless we are vigilant and raise Canadian concerns with our largest trading partner far more regularly and far more aggressively, those additional trade agreements will not compensate for the losses we could suffer as U.S. protectionism increases,” he concluded.

Text of the letter from Mr. Easter to Minister Fast:

Hon. Ed Fast, PC, MP
Minister of International Trade

Dear Mr. Minister:

I am writing to request an update with respect to the release of a WTO interim report this past spring related to a finding that the U.S. through the use of its Country of Origin Labelling provisions, had exceeded its trade obligations in relation to imports of beef and pigs.

Given the difficulties which our beef exporters have had with respect to regaining access to the U.S. market specifically in the wake of the BSE issue, any restriction or inhibition of that trade due to U.S. protectionist measures is unacceptable and should be responded to by the federal government aggressively and publicly.

A report published in the trade publication “Inside U.S. Trade,” referenced U.S. government officials who have “confidentially warned for years that the COOL law, as amended under the 2008 farm bill, would likely be found inconsistent with WTO rules if challenged.” That has now become the case.

My understanding is a final report may be released this month.

I would appreciate an update on this issue given the critical role trade, specifically with the U.S., is a major pillar of the success of our domestic livestock sector. The use of domestic legislation which is clearly little more than a means by which to protect their domestic sectors given the longstanding trade agreement between our two countries is unacceptable and should be challenged aggressively.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Wayne Easter, MP

HOUSE OF COMMONS
CHAMBRE DES COMMUNES

The Honorable Wayne Easter, P.C., M.P.
L’honorable Wayne Easter, c.p., député
Malpeque

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