30 May 2013

Dunderdale and Dalley tell different trade talk stories #nlpoli

Premier Kathy Dunderdale (via NTV):

We’re looking for a ‘carve-out’ on the minimum processing regulations … so they’ll be exempted, and we want access to the European market on a number of our fish lines…

Carve out. 

Hideous jargon for “not going to trade away” minimum processing regulations.


Fisheries minister Derrick Dalley (via the Telegram):

Fisheries Minister Derrick Dalley was at a media event in St. John’s Tuesday, where he assured reporters that the provincial government is not going to give away minimum processing requirements unless it’s a good deal.

Not going to trade away minimum processing requirements.

Oh wait.

There’s more.

“unless it’s a good deal.”


And he used the phrase “give away”.

The Telly included a quote full of hideous jargon that seems to add some additional information.

“There’s an ongoing negotiation and we want to achieve the zero tariff and no end use restriction immediately, but we’re certainly not prepared at all cost,” he said. “I can’t stress enough that we fully intend to maintain our jurisdictional right and responsibility to maximize the value of our resources for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Let’s break it down a bit.

Dalley says the talks are going on right now. 

Government has a goal:  “we want to achieve zero tariff”, meaning they want to get fish into Europe without the anti-competitive tax the Europeans add right now. 

Good idea.

There’s a second goal:  “no end use restriction immediately.”  For the rest of the story, you can tell what that means – making sure local processors can ship top quality product into markets, maybe by adding on processing here, instead of shipping out huge bulk blocks of fish or shrimp or what have you.

Another good idea.

Maintain jurisdictional right and responsibility to maximise the value of resources.

Okay, well since the trade talks won’t change the constitution the provincial government can still control whatever it wants.  But the key phrase there from Dalley’s comment is “maximise the value”. 

You see minimum processing regulations are designed to give as many people as possible a bit of whatever work they can get to grab some employment insurance stamps.  The fish processing industry has too many plants and needs to cut itself down to a highly competitive size.  MPRs also specify that some types of fish have to be put into big blocks for shipping somewhere else.  That’s a hold-over from the ancient past and it limits how much processors can get for their product.  MPRs are a huge obstacle and the processors would just as soon get rid of them as not.

Even the fisheries union is interested in getting into European markets without a tariff.  As the Telly quoted Earle McCurdy:

For example, he said codfish faces a 7.5 per cent tariff coming from Canada, and it’s competing against Iceland and Norway cod which has no tariff. He said that shrimp from this province faces “end-use restrictions” which basically mean it can only be sold in bulk going into the EU, which eliminates any chance to do branding or value-added processing.

“Progress in those areas would be very significant for our industry,” McCurdy said.

Sensible position.  If the processors can get top dollar for value-added processing, then the people working in those plants can make better than the slave wages they current scrape from the world of minimum processing regulations.

You can see then, that the Premier’s adamant stance that the provincial government wants to keep MPRs  - carve them out - is very much at odds with what the industry and her own fishery minister are talking about.  Their heads are screwed on straight. 

Her head is…well…somewhere else.  Some place where they “bang up” the phone. There’s a huge difference between what Kathy Dunderdale talked about publicly on Monday and what Derrick Dalley said on Tuesday.

That raises even more questions about what the frig she was talking about and why.she blew away her own announcement with this stuff about trade talks.

Wait another day and maybe something else will pop up.