Speaking before Zieba’s statement, McKinney pointed to new sanitary/phytosanitary (SPS) provisions in the agreement, which clarify “the kind of rigor that science requires” to ensure USMCA members don’t erect trade barriers.
“Wheat on one side of the border in North Dakota was considered ‘feed grade,’ and the same wheat one mile into Canada was ‘food grade,’ and let me tell you, there is a difference in price,” he said. “That’s not very fair.”
The U.S. gained modest additional market access for products including dairy and wheat exports, but the “real bonus” are the new SPS and biotech provisions, which will have long-term impacts on North American trade, he said.
McKinney noted an entirely new chapter on biosciences, including new language on gene editing, which includes “great promise” for disease management in crops or other problems in livestock and/or poultry products, he said.
U.S. dairy farmers had been getting “hammered” by a Canadian milk pricing policy that resulted in Canada dumping dry milk powder and butter on the world market, before U.S. and Canadian negotiators were able to agree to language to modestly expand Canada’s market for U.S. dairy exports and to set rules for the future so “those kinds of things are kept in check,” McKinney said.
Speaking to American Shipper after the Atlantic Council discussion, McKinney said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will have an “important role” in ensuring that Canada fills those import quotas, noting he believes Canada is well aware that the U.S. government will closely monitor Canada’s implementation of the new provisions.
“Our sense is [Canada] made a commitment to fill their quotas. It would sort of be contrary … to the spirit of free, fair and reciprocal trade if they don’t honor that and the other points of the agreement,” McKinney said. “We’ll see what happens, but our hope and our expectation is that they will follow through on the commitments they made: Fill the quota. Stop the dumping. Let us have access. Honor … geographic indicators.”
He added, “Time will clearly be the determinant.”
Notwithstanding dairy talks, McKinney noted that Canada and Mexico are “good friends” of the U.S. and are “aligned” in “so many ways,” including philosophically.
He noted that the Mexican congress generally is supportive of the deal and that concerns among Canadian lawmakers regarding the deal largely boil down to the fashion in which USMCA might pass U.S. Congress.
“Not that there couldn’t be roadblocks along the way, but it’s a much more likely and easier ratification in both of those countries,” Marczak said.
McKinney said he hopes the U.S. Congress finds USMCA in its current form as an “acceptable package,” noting that post-negotiation tweaks to a trade deal could be another country’s “heartburn.”
“The hope is that the negotiations with the consultation that has taken place will suffice,” he said. “So we’ll keep our fingers crossed. All I know is this is a big damn deal, and I hope it does go through.”