US and Canadian trade representatives air concerns ahead of USMCA trade deal meeting

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai discussed a range of trade issues with Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng on 17 May and emphasized the need for Canada to implement new North American trade deal commitments on dairy and e-commerce shipments, her office said in a statement.
calendar icon 18 May 2021
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In a virtual meeting on the eve of the first meeting of the US-Mexico Canada Agreement Free Trade Commission, Tai also raised concerns about Canada's recently proposed digital services tax, according to Reuters. The trade agency is readying potential tariffs on six countries while international negotiations on the issue proceed.

A statement from Canada's trade ministry said Ng also raised concerns about US trade policies but the two agreed on the need to strengthen North American supply chains, collaborate on COVID-19 recovery and implement the USMCA's labor rights provisions.

These included concerns about US "Buy America" government procurement restrictions and an ongoing dispute over US tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.

Ng also brought up a dispute over Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's order that Canadian pipeline company Enbridge shut down a crude pipeline over safety concerns, a move Canada says would violate a 1977 treaty.

The USMCA trade deal allowed for improved access for US dairy farmers to Canada's highly protected dairy market. The Trump administration in December said it was challenging Canada's allocation of tariff-rate quotas for dairy.

The trade deal also raised the "de-minimis" duty-free threshold for small duty-free shipments of goods to C$150 from C$20 previously, a move expected to benefit US e-commerce companies such as and eBay.

The meeting of the USMCA Free Trade Council, which includes Tai, Ng and Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier, will also discuss several irritants in Mexico's implementation of the accord, notably on labor rights.

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Source: Reuters

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