Friday, January 31, 2014

Auto jobs trump farming in Ontario

The Ontario government is lobbying the federal government to protect auto-industry jobs in the revived trade negotiations with South Korea.

That, however, is precisely what has stalled a deal that is keenly sought by Canada’s beef and hog farmers who believe there is a ready market in South Korea for their meat.

The South Koreans have insisted all along that they need improved access to the Canadian market for their cars, else there will be no deal.

Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne has been silent on the trade talks, but Eric Hoskins, her Minister of Economic Development, has warned that a deal with South Korea “may actually be quite challenging and problematic and negatively impact the sector in Ontario and Canada.”

But federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz is urging negotiators to press hard for a deal. 

Hoskins says the federal government ought to seek the same auto-industry protections as the U.S. gained in its 2011 trade agreement with South Korea. He said the U.S. gained concessions for Michigan-based auto manufacturers.