Saskatchewan

SaskMilk 'shocked and dismayed' by new USMCA trade agreement

SaskMilk says the Canadian government has let dairy producers down.

Premier Moe pleased with trade deal but concerns over steel tariffs linger

Dairy producers in Saskatchewan said terms on the USMCA trade deal will cause harm to the industry. (CBC)

SaskMilk says Canada's new trade agreement will harm the country's dairy industry.

"Quite frankly we are shocked and dismayed by this," said Peter Brown, general manager of​ SaskMilk.

On Sunday, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to a tentative new deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), to replace the previous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Brown said the federal government has been voicing support for the dairy industry and supply management over the last few months, but the agreement is a let down.

"We've woken up to an agreement that has, in our estimation, caused and will cause a lot of harm."

SaskMilk said in a statement, "the impact of this trade negotiation is a disappointing revelation that our government used the livelihoods of 220,000 Canadians to bargain with the United States."

SaskMilk said Saskatchewan's dairy sector provides 4,800 jobs and contributes $413 million to Saskatchewan's GDP.

"We're not a big industry here in Saskatchewan, we have about 165 producers, but as individuals they will be impacted just like any other producers across the country," Brown said.

Premier Moe concerned about tariffs

Premier Scott Moe said he is pleased that a deal to preserve North American free trade was made.

Moe said the province relies on the trading relationship, with 55 per cent of Saskatchewan exports going to the United States and 85 per cent of imports coming into the province from the U.S.

"Preserving that type of a trading environment with that large of a partner is of crucial importance," Moe said.

There are still concerns about continuing tariffs of Canadian steel and aluminum. 

In March, President Donald Trump imposed tariffs using Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which allows the U.S. administration to charge import fees on grounds of national security without consulting Congress.

The USMCA does not remove those tariffs or the counter-tariffs imposed by Canada. 

"We've offered any engagement opportunities that Saskatchewan can put forward (on tariffs) we're willing to do that and we're willing to do it on short notice," Moe said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has visited Regina's Evraz plant to talk about steel production twice in recent months, in the wake of U.S. and Canadian disputes about steel and aluminum. (CBC News)

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will continue to discuss steel and aluminum tariffs.

When asked about the tariffs at a news conference on Monday morning, President Donald Trump said, "the steel is staying where it is, and aluminum."

Mike Day, president of the United Steelworkers Local 5890, which represents the workers at Evraz in Regina, said Trump's comment is a concern.

"It would make our jobs easier a lot less stress in the plant if we knew the duties and tariffs were taken care of."

"The duties and tariffs weren't necessarily part of NAFTA maybe it's in the background being dealt with that's obviously mine and our hope but it's going to be a wait and see," Day said.

- with files from CBC's Elise von Scheel

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 13 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

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