U.S., Canada set up forum on trade issues

by Teresa Acklin
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   OTTAWA — U.S. and Canadian agriculture officials on April 20 announced the establishment of a Consultative Committee on Agriculture to improve Canada-U.S. cooperation on agricultural trade issues.

   The C.C.A. will meet at least once a year and will address market access, sanitary-phytosanitary and other trade issues.

   A provincial-state advisory group representing U.S. states and Canadian provinces will be established to advise the C.C.A. To stimulate private sector participation in the cross-border dialogue, the C.C.A. will encourage the formation of bilateral industry consultative groups representing various sectors of agriculture in both countries.

   U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, who agreed on the C.C.A. with Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lyle Vanclief, said the committee would help identify and address bilateral problems early on. “It will also strengthen our trade relationship by providing a forum to work more closely together, along with states and producers on both sides of the border, in pursuing our common goals in agriculture,” Mr. Glickman said.

   “The C.C.A. will put into practice a formal early-warning and consultative process that both countries committed to last December in our Record of Understanding on agricultural trade,” he added. “As major trading partners, we need to find a better, faster way of resolving bilateral issues in agriculture. Our broader goals include greater cooperation on areas of mutual interest, such as promoting fair and more open agricultural markets globally.”

   Minister Vanclief said the meeting with Mr. Glickman represented a “top-level national commitment on both sides of the border to expanding agricultural trade.”

   “By bringing all players together, including industry, we are trying to create a system where potential problems are identified quickly, information exchanged and steps taken to resolve them before they become major irritants,” he said.