Sask. minister expresses ‘concern’ as Canada returns to NAFTA bargaining table

Leverage lost in trade talks with U.S.: Saskatchewan trade minister
WATCH ABOVE: Saskatchewan’s trade minister says Canada has lost leverage in its trade talks with the United States. Global’s Ryan Kessler has more on the potential provincial impact.

Canada has lost leverage in negotiations with the United States by missing trade talks that led to a deal between Mexico and the United States, according to Saskatchewan’s trade and export development minister.

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a deal between his country and Mexico meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

READ MORE: Why U.S.-Mexico’s NAFTA agreement could be good news for Canada’s auto industry

“The fact that we weren’t at the table and being able to participate in that negotiation, I think, has without question had an impact on the leverage that we would have in the context of a further discussion,” said Trade Minister Jeremy Harrison, who added the Mexico-U.S. deal revealed areas of flexibility.

Saskatchewan exported nearly $29 billion in products in 2017 – $16 billion of which went to the United States.

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“We’ve been concerned about a pattern that we’ve been seeing of moving backward on market access, moving backward on trade access, not moving forward,” Harrison said.

While announcing the new deal with Mexico, Trump criticized Canada’s dairy industry, which regulates pricing and supply in a process known as supply management.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government’s position on supply management hasn’t changed.

READ MORE: Trudeau stands firm on supply management as Trump turns up the heat on NAFTA talks

Harrison said the government should be open to discussing measures to ease supply management – as it did under other trade deals.

“I don’t think that there would ever be an outcome where you’re going to see a complete dismantling of supply management in the short term,” Harrison said.

Trump has given Canada a Friday deadline to sign onto the deal.