Business & Policy
Poultry groups slam new TTP pact
By Brett Ruffell
Poultry groups have called it a giveaway, failure and deeply concerning. The reviews are in for the latest version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. They aren’t good.
President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal shortly after taking office. When that happened, Canadian poultry leaders hoped negotiators would rescind concessions granting countries increased access to Canada’s supply managed sectors.
After all, they were only put in place to appease our neighbours to the south in hopes of some reciprocal benefit. “That was negotiated almost solely at the behest of the U.S.,” says Bruce Muirhead, research chair in public policy at the University of Waterloo.
To the poultry industry’s dismay, when the remaining 11 countries announced in late January that they’d reached an agreement in principle on the newly named Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact, the concessions were still intact.
Making things worse, Canada’s poultry sectors got nothing new in return. Organizations were quick to slam the agreement. “We believe this deal will harm the turkey sector,” Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC) chair Mark Davies says. “There was no need to maintain the market access levels of the original TPP.”
On the turkey side, TFC says the agreement will result in $270 million in lost cash receipts for producers over the next 19 years and a farm output loss of at least 4.5 per cent. It foresees total economic activity losses in the order of $111 million per year occurring through the value-chain as a result of CPTPP.
From what he’s heard about partner countries’ interests, Muirhead says turkey producers are right to be concerned. “The Chileans are salivating at the possibility of shipping turkey breasts to Canada,” he says. “So their market share will absolutely be eroded,” he continues, noting that the Canadian turkey market is already stagnant.
On the other hand, Muirhead is unsure about the trade pact’s impact on Canada’s table egg sector. “The market would’ve been a lucrative one for U.S. producers,” he notes. “But I’m not entirely sure who’s going to supply that market share for eggs now.” One possibility he suggests is that some countries might supply industrial egg products or dried eggs.
But Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) expects the trade deal to take its toll. It says Canadian egg farmers will lose the right to produce close to 291 million dozen eggs when the pact is implemented. That will be followed by an additional 19 million dozen eggs added each year. The deal represents close to $1 billion in lost farm family income, according to EFC.
With so much at stake, poultry groups are urging the government to expedite work on measures to mitigate the impacts of the deal.
The feds previously announced several support programs aimed at offsetting the concessions made in signing the original TPP pact.
Perhaps most importantly, poultry leaders say Canada must stand firm during other trade discussions – namely, ongoing NAFTA talks.
“If the U.S. wants access to our market, for example, they are welcome to rejoin the CPTPP,” states Benoît Fontaine, Chicken Farmers of Canada chair.
President Trump shows no signs of wanting to rejoin that fold. And with U.S. negotiators openly seeking to dismantle Canada’s supply management system, Muirhead believes the Americans will at a minimum demand a significant increase in market access in any new NAFTA agreement.
The trade expert forsees the U.S. seeking at least the same new market share Canada gave up for CPTPP.
With so much uncertainty, one thing’s for certain – interesting times lay ahead.