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Nova Scotia lobster. (Photo: Dept. of Fisheries & Aquaculture Nova Scotia)

Nova Scotia fisheries authorities understate impact from US withdrawal from NAFTA

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Thursday, December 07, 2017, 23:30 (GMT + 9)

Nova Scotia officials ensure that the booming seafood demand from Asia and Europe would offset any losses that the withdrawal of the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would cause on this Canadian province's seafood industry.

This optimistic view was expressed by Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture deputy minister Frank Dunn, saying the value of the province's seafood exports has doubled in the past five years to CAD 1.8 million (USD 1,400 million) in 2016, CBC News informed.

"Within the country, we are the seafood powerhouse," said Scott Hosking, the director of business development with the Fisheries Department.

Nevertheless, a recent report by the Bank of Montreal (BMO) called "The Day After NAFTA" predicts World Trade Organization tariffs would prevail.

Trade data provided to CBC News by the Nova Scotia Finance Department show some processed seafood at the US border could be hit with WTO tariffs from four to 10 per cent.

But that does not affect Department Officials’ optimistic view, stating that while a cheaper Canadian dollar helped boost exports, increased sales and volumes largely accounted for the rise and predicted annual exports will eventually reach CAD 3 billion (USD 2.3 billion) in value.

In their view, Nova Scotia's seafood industry is becoming less dependent on the US, whose sales still account for 52 per cent of exports, representing a decline from over 80 per cent in the early 2000s.

In this regard, Scott Hosking, Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture's director of business development, points out that there are other opportunities, pointing to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe, which went into effect in late September. The deal removes 96 per cent of tariff barriers on Canadian seafood.

On the other hand, Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell highlights that China has surpassed Europe as the province's second leading market for seafood, accounting for 14 per cent of export value, with Europe at 11 per cent.

However, those that are not so optimistic about the US withdrawal like Clearwater Seafood CEO Ian Smith highlight there will probably be more losers than winners in Canada if NAFTA is torn up.

According to provincial statistics, in 2016, the US purchased CAD 3.7 billion (USD 2.9 billion) in goods from Nova Scotia, which is 68 per cent of all of Nova Scotia's international goods exports.



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