Saturday, December 7, 2013

WTO deal reached

We have a World Trade Organization deal.

The implications for Canadian agriculture are not yet clear from the early reports, but the news media seems to believe the deal will be of benefit to the world's poorer nations.

That's an answer to prayers!

There has been mention of improvements in tariff-rate quotas, but no details that I have found. The Canadian dairy and poultry marketing boards count on keeping tariff-rate quotas small and on tight administration by Ottawa's trade-department bureaucrats.

Those who hold permits to import under these quotas have a licence to print money because they can import at low prices and sell at close to Canada's supply-managed significantly higher prices. That, of course, is of no benefit to either low-income food producers or low-income Canadian grocery shoppers.

I am keenly interested in learning whether the deal includes any reduction in tariffs. That was a high-priority goal at the beginning of the negotiations 12 years ago and all of the proposals on the table called for huge reductions in the Canadian tariffs for dairy and poultry.