U.S. agricultural groups told the U.S. Trade Representative's Office that the country must fix mistakes made in the North American Free Trade Agreement by insisting in new trade talks with Canada on unrestricted access to its poultry and dairy market.

"All we're asking is that we have an open and free fair trade shot at the border," Bill Roenigk, senior vice president at the National Chicken Council, said at a hearing conducted by the U.S. Trade Representative's office on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact.

Canada's Conservative government, sensitive to sentiment in vote-rich Eastern Canada, has long said it will maintain supply-management measures for dairy, poultry and egg farmers, reports Reuters. These measures largely entail matching production to domestic demand and levying high tariffs to discourage imports.

Roenigk said U.S. producers thought NAFTA, which went into force in January 1994, would eliminate tariffs on U.S. poultry exports to Canada and were shocked when Ottawa, as well as a NAFTA dispute settlement panel, took the opposite view.

Now that the United States has a second chance to address Canada's poultry tariffs, the U.S. industry's "view on this is the old Irish proverb: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me," Roenigk said in his prepared remarks.

"The U.S. poultry industry strongly opposes Canada's participation in the TPP unless Canada expressly commits to removing all border restrictions on poultry imports from the United States," he said.

Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president at the National Milk Producers Federation, said U.S. dairy producers were also disappointed NAFTA did not open up Canada's market and were determined not to let that happen again.

The United States must seize this opportunity to "finally negotiate an opening of the Canadian dairy market to all US dairy products without restriction," Castaneda said.

Both Castaneda and Roenigk said Canada could become a big market for the U.S. producers if tariffs were removed.

Source: Reuters