Does Canada Need to Dismantle Supply Management in the TPP Talks?
June 27, 2012 - A paper released by the George Morris Centre yesterday questions whether Canada needs to dismantle supply management systems as it prepares to enter Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) discussions. The paper, authored by Al Mussell, considers the role and function of marketing boards and agencies in supply management, the elements of supply management that marketing boards are not involved with, and what the interests of other countries in the TPP are regarding supply management in Canada. The paper concludes that Canada’s trading partners are much more interested in the barriers to trade employed to protect supply management systems than in supply management itself. The conclusion is that there is no need whatsoever for Canada to dismantle supply management as it approaches the TPP negotiations.
Mussell says, “if you look at what supply management agencies actually do, many of the countries that have traditionally opposed Canadian supply management employ similar instruments. The real interest of our trading partners is in reducing the tariffs and increasing tariff-free access to dairy, egg, and poultry markets.” Reducing trade barriers to imports does not imply the demise of supply management systems, because they are robust to significant adjustment, and Canada has the discretion to negotiate reductions in trade barriers, given the totality of its interests. “But this is a matter of degree,” says Mussell. “Sudden or very large reductions in protection could trigger drastic changes in supply management, with the possibility that the industries involved might wish to abandon it. But this would be a domestic policy choice, not part of or a prelude to trade negotiations.”