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Dispute over Canada’s dairy trade continues as changes fall short of rules, minister says

By RNZ

Trade Minister Todd McClay accuses Canada of continuing to breach its dairy trade deal.

In September last year, New Zealand won a trade dispute that concluded Canada was violating the agreement by blocking dairy exporters’ access to the Canadian market.

New Zealand initiated the procedure because Canada did not comply with the rules of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

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A CPTPP arbitration panel ruled in favor of New Zealand.

Canada had until Wednesday to change the way it managed tariff quotas: stop giving priority access to its own domestic industry and allow exporters to fully benefit from market access negotiated in good faith between Canada and New Zealand.

However, McClay said the changes Canada had released on Thursday still did not comply with the ruling.

He said Canada’s refusal to fully comply with a CPTPP trade dispute resolution on dairy trade was cynical and New Zealand had no intention of backing down.

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“Canada’s continued failure to comply with its legal commitments is disappointing, but we have no intention of relenting on this issue. “We stand with our exporters and will defend the commitments of the hard-won free trade agreements.”

Trade Minister Todd McClay has asked for urgent legal advice on how to proceed.  Photo / RNZ
Trade Minister Todd McClay has asked for urgent legal advice on how to proceed. Photo / RNZ

“New Zealand supports trade rules and takes its obligations to its trading partners seriously. We hope that others will show us the same courtesy.”

He had sought urgent legal advice on how to proceed.

He said the Canadian government still had time to fulfill its obligations to New Zealand, both in spirit and substance of the agreement.

ACT Party business spokesperson Dr Parmjeet Parmar called it a “betrayal of our friendship”.

“It’s hard to think of two countries with warmer relations than New Zealand and Canada. Our shared history and cultural similarities should be the basis of a close and good faith relationship. But on trade, Canada is shutting us out… Canada signed the CPTPP knowing that its exporters would benefit from reduced trade barriers. But free trade must go both ways.”

He said that if Canada could not comply, it should be “expelled from the agreement.”