Canada's new agriculture minister said on Tuesday he is likely to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by the previous government, and is inclined to retaliate against the United States over a long-standing meat-labelling dispute.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new government has not taken a firm position yet on whether it will support TPP, a trade deal reached last month between 12 Pacific Rim countries.
"I suspect when I evaluate the whole thing, it will be something I support," said Lawrence MacAulay, 69, a former potato and dairy farmer who represents Prince Edward Island in cabinet.
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"I see nothing today that would make me not want to support the whole package," he told Reuters in an interview, his first as agriculture minister.
MacAulay said a $4.3 billion compensation package offered by the previous government to dairy, poultry and egg farmers who will face more import competition looks fair.
TPP faces a tough battle to win support in the U.S. Congress. Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said on Friday the Obama administration may have to renegotiate parts of the deal.
"There can be no re-doing of the agreement," Akira Amari told a news conference in Tokyo.
"Renegotiation is not an option," agreed Caroline Atkinson, Obama's deputy national security adviser for international economics, on a call hosted by the Atlantic Council think-tank.
Country-of-origin labeling still contentious
MacAulay also said Ottawa is prepared to retaliate against the United States over a meat-labelling dispute, although he conceded that International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland is in charge of that file.
Canada and Mexico won a World Trade Organization ruling in 2012 that said U.S. regulations illegally discriminated against imported meat.
"You cannot have a deal with foreign countries and not have them comply with the rules and then just continue on," MacAulay said. "You have to take measures. Do we want to? No. But if we have to, I suspect we will."
Even so, MacAulay said he spoke on Monday with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and is hopeful that Washington will comply with the WTO's ruling. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had no immediate comment.
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A WTO arbitration panel is expected to decide on an authorized amount for retaliation before the end of the year. Canada has requested authorization for tariffs on more than $3.1 billion Cdn per year of U.S. exports.
Under the previous Conservative government, Canada identified a list of potential targets for steep tariffs, including U.S. beef, pork, wine, cherries and mattresses. MacAulay said the government has yet to decide which products to target.