It’s encouraging that the pesky auto sector portion of the NAFTA negotiations seems to be heading toward consensus, but there are still some major issues to be resolved and not a whole lot of time to get a deal done.
Both the United States and Mexico want a new NAFTA deal this spring because of upcoming elections in both countries, but the holdup seems to be Canada’s protectionist attitude on some key issues.
Canada’s supply management program, which subsidizes the dairy industry, has been a major sticking point, but Canada has other protectionist programs for the poultry and wine industries and of course, the contentious telecommunications field, where companies like Verizon would love to have access to Canadian markets and online shopping entities like Amazon, would like to see Canadian restrictions relaxed.
No one is suggesting that Canada simply cave in to any American request, but it seems that Canada’s intransigence on some of these issues has more to do with protecting the business interests of a few Canadians at the expense of the rest of us.
Case in point: we pay among the highest cellphone rates in the world because we won’t allow telecom giants like Verizon into the Canadian market.
We’re not going to get a 21st-century trade deal if we bring a 19th-century attitude to the table.