Poultry rises up the agenda at NAFTA talks

24-11-2017 | | |
Photo: Wikimedia / Gran
Photo: Wikimedia / Gran

Demands that Canada buys more chicken and eggs from the United States were a key element of the fifth round of negotiations that took place this week in Mexico City.

The US is keen to end the strict supply management regime adopted by Canada in its production of chicken, turkey and eggs.

The discussions followed the release of a new set of US proposals with updated goals, calling for the expansion of competitive market opportunities for US agricultural goods in NAFTA nations so that they should be equivalent to the opportunities afforded foreign exports into the US market.

The paper, “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation,” called for the elimination of remaining Canadian tariffs on imports of US dairy, poultry and egg products. The new element was the introduction of the words “poultry and egg products” which had not been included in the first set of US NAFTA objectives in July.

While officials were publicly tight-lipped on the extent of the proposed changes, it is understood that the US is demanding that Canada completely open its markets to US exports of chicken, turkey and eggs, according to trade publication Agri-Pulse.

Due to the quota system Canada operates, their domestic market is seen to be particularly attractive as the nation maintains artificially high prices to support domestic farmers.

Canada sets the tariff rate quota, which is about 86,000 metric tons for US chicken. Anything above that comes in above the quota is struck by tariffs of more than 250%.

The US National Turkey Federation said it supported greater access to the Canadian market for US turkey products but there is still ongoing speculation that US President Trump, who has described the previous NAFTA agreement as “worst deal ever”, will call time on the negotiations.

The next round of talks is due to take place in Montreal, Canada in late January.

Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist