Canada's agrifood sector needs to prepare for a changing world

  • National Newswatch

The WTO is becoming powerless to enforce trade rules.Ottawa—The sorry state of world affairs must not distract Canada from continuing to work at producing more food, says Janice Gross Stein, the Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto.Agriculture will be more important than ever in the future, she told the Canadian Crops Convention. The next 10 years will be all about Canada showing up with the food the world needs.At the same time, the global power struggles have left the World Trade Organization powerless to maintain international trade rules, she said. The U.S., China and India wants Canada and other food exporters to follow their own rules, which means access to their markets will always be at stake.To help cope with that situation, the food industry must work with governments to make sure Canadian products meet the standards of other countries.The Biden Administration's Buy American policy is the most protectionist move enacted during the last 30 years and “it makes it hard for us to be friends. They call it support but it's protectionism.” Sadly, Europe and India are headed in the same direction and China keeps closing its borders to Canadian products.The result is that governments in Canada need to understand what is happening internationally, she said. “We have to show up and be involved so we understand what our customers need. The Indo-Pacific trade deal is a good example of what Canada should be doing including having more people on the ground promoting this country's products.”That region accounts for 60 per cent of the world's economic growth and success there would enable Canada to lessen its dependence on China.The growth in Canadian canola production has been one of the most impactful changes internationally, she said. Another is an overall decline in world trade since 2010 caused by growing protectionism.