Canadian Agriculture Minister urges caution in NAFTA talks – Nation

Lawrence MacAulay, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, said negotiators should “be careful” in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mateusz Perkowski/Capital Press

Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay.

PORTLAND — Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, Lawrence MacAulay, said he’s amenable to negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement but hopes the talks proceed with caution.

“It’s put a lot of money in the farmers’ pockets in the U.S. and Canada, so let’s be sure to continue down that path,” MacAulay said. “If you’re going to fix something that’s in good shape, be careful.”

MacAulay stopped in Portland July 24 for the annual summit of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a non-profit created by five American states and five Canadian provinces.

NAFTA is top of mind in agriculture these days, with negotiations over the agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico set to begin Aug. 16-20 in Washington, D.C.

After meeting with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, MacAulay sees an ally who’s also supportive of the strong trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada.

Whether Perdue will be able to influence NAFTA’s renegotiation, however, is a subject about which MacAuley said he’d prefer not to speculate.

In late April, it appeared the President Donald Trump was ready to pull out of NAFTA, until Perdue and other pro-trade agriculture groups convinced him to revisit the deal rather than withdraw entirely.

In outlining the Trump administration’s objectives in the NAFTA discussions, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer specifically pointed to “market access issues” related to trade with Canada in grain, dairy and wine that the current deal “is unequipped to address.”

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Commerce Department also recently imposed tariffs of roughly 4.6 to 7.7 percent on…

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