No winners and losers in USMCA trade deal, Jim Carr says

Despite criticism from the dairy industry, Manitoba's senior member of Parliament says overall, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is good news for the province.

Deal is good for Manitoba's economy overall, despite concerns about dairy, federal cabinet minister says

Jim Carr, federal minister of international trade diversification, says the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will be good for Manitoba's agriculture industry because it will stabilize markets and thus encourage investment. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Despite criticism from the dairy industry, Canada's minister of international trade diversification says overall, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is good news for Manitoba.

"You don't talk about winners and losers when you're talking about a trade deal, because there are so many components of it," said Jim Carr, who is Manitoba's senior federal politician.

"You look at what does it mean overall, and overall for the agriculture sector, it's positive."

The agreement, which replaces NAFTA, includes greater access to the Canadian market for dairy products from south of the border. Canada's dairy producers have been heavily protected by a supply management system.

After 14 months of intense negotiations between Canada and the U.S., a deal was reached late Sunday, only hours before a U.S.-imposed midnight deadline.

On Monday, David Wiens, a producer near Grunthal, Man., and chair of the Dairy Producers of Manitoba, said those in the dairy industry are "extremely disappointed" by the deal, which he called a death by 1,000 cuts.

"Every time there's a trade deal, they're giving another portion of our markets away," Wiens said.

'Nobody's going to get everything'

The federal government has pledged to compensate dairy farmers for their losses, Carr pointed out.

He also said that the deal should create jobs in Manitoba because it will stabilize markets and thus encourage investment.

"When you're trying to align the interests across three countries, everybody has to understand, nobody's going to get everything they want," he said.

"If you look at the negotiation position of the Trump administration 14 months ago, and compare that to the deal we agreed to yesterday, it's a far cry from what he [Donald Trump] wanted, because we were tough and we were insistent on protecting Canadian interests."

Carr added it's difficult to compare the new trade deal to NAFTA, because the old deal was negotiated in "a completely different time."

"The situation is completely different," he said. 

"The times have changed, therefore the deal has changed. What we want more than anything else is stability."

As part of the deal, Canada has agreed to end what's called Class 7 pricing, a milk class created in March 2017 that slashed prices on some Canadian-produced milk ingredients, such as protein concentrates, skim milk and whole milk powder, used to make cheese and yogurt.

The co-ordinated price cut had made the American equivalents uncompetitive.

U.S. officials touted that change as a major breakthrough for American farmers, especially in Wisconsin and New York, where dairy farmers are eager to offload some of their product on Canada as they grapple with severe oversupply.

With files from Information Radio