In a July 15 letter to the Canadian Ambassador to the United States, Gary Albert Doer, the Congressmen stressed the “importance of key agricultural market issues, such as those pertaining to dairy trade, which are not yet resolved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).”
Twelve countries that border the Pacific Ocean - Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, the United States, Canada and Japan - are currently negotiating the free trade deal.
The aim of the talks, which began in 2011, is to improve and simplify trade between the 12 participating countries and drive growth.
Canada has, however, been "unwilling to seriously engage in market access discussions regarding dairy" since they began, the letter continued.
“The final dairy market access package with Canada will have a significant impact on how Congress views the final agreement," it said. "It will be difficult for us to support Canada’s inclusion in TPP if significant new dairy access is not part of the deal.”
In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development brushed off the warning.
“Our goal is to secure balanced outcomes that benefit all sectors of our economy, across all regions of our country," it said.
“The Government’s commitment to our supply managed sector has not prevented us from concluding ambitious free trade agreements, such as the Canada-European Union Free Trade Agreement and the Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.”
“Our Government will continue to promote and defend Canadian trade interests across all sectors of our economy, including supply management. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will only sign an agreement that’s in Canada’s best interests," it added.
Speaking with the Globe and Mail earlier this week, a spokesperson for Canadian International Trade Minister, Ed Fast, said Canada would not be “bullied into negotiating this through the media.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which represents the interests of the US dairy industry, meanwhile commended the Congressmen for their "strong stance against Canada's lack of engagement on dairy market access negotiations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks."