Before the U.S. election, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI) got a sneak peek at what a new Administration could mean for U.S. agriculture, and the possible consequences for Canada. In a recent dialogue (link here: https://bit.ly/36nbhmj)
hosted by colleagues at the U.S. Farm Foundation, Sam Clovis, a member of the Farmers and Ranchers for Trump Campaign Coalition and Pam Johnson, a former president of the National Corn Growers Association and advisor to the Biden campaign, shared their thoughts.
What is striking to note is that with all the talk about political divisions in the U.S., this discussion showed how much common ground exists between the two parties on farm and food policy. However, it is also striking to see how U.S. agriculture is increasingly adopting positions that could negatively impact Canada. So, what does it all mean?
When it comes to international trade, Biden campaign advisor Johnson was much more supportive of the World Trade Organization and multilateral trade than the Trump administration has been, including reinstituting the Appellate Body, though neither party looks set to rush to a return to orderly international trade. An “America first” approach to managing China and other trade issues will likely continue under either party.
With the Republicans doing better than expected in House and Senate races, the House, Senate and Administration could also be significantly divided. Given much of the shift in vote has, to date, been coming from suburban and ex-urban communities, it also remains to be seen what voice rural, agricultural communities will have at the table as a new, or re-elected, administration sets its policy agenda going forward.
Something that CAPI is also watching closely is what will happen when Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) expires next summer. TPA is essential to enabling an Administration’s trade agenda, and renewing it will be an important step if a Biden Administration plans to re-engage in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations. However, if the two sides of Congress are divided, or if the internal divide amongst Democrats increases, there is a likelihood that TPA will not be renewed promptly. The lack of TPA will likely result in the U.S. not advancing its trade negotiations in Asia and Europe.
This could present the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector with an opportunity to better leverage its first-mover advantage secured in agreements, including CPTPP and CETA. Europe and Japan are two major markets where Canada could have a significant competitive advantage over the U.S. in key export commodities and food products. However, we can only take full advantage of those opportunities if Canada takes a more strategic trade approach.
CAPI has already laid out three recommendations for how to do this, and while the government and industry's initial responses have been positive, more work needs to be done. Link here: https://bit.ly/32ortm7
Source: Canadian Agri Policy Institute November 6, 2020 note