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Canada sets sights on priority export markets

By Carina Perkins , 12-Nov-2012
Last updated on 12-Nov-2012 at 12:16 GMT

Canada is focusing on priority export markets
Canada is focusing on priority export markets

Canada has increased trade opportunities for meat processors by focusing on 10 priority markets, according to a new report from the Harper government.

The 2011-2012 Agriculture and Agri-Food Market Access Report outlines the actions the government has taken to extend access in the established markets of Chinese Taipei, the European Union, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and the USA, and to open new opportunities in the emerging markets of China, Indonesia, India, and Russia.

“The government of Canada is undertaking the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history. We are working hard to open new export markets in the world’s emerging major economies while continuing to strengthen and expand existing trade relationships. More exports mean more jobs for Canadians and sustainable long-term growth for Canada,” said an opening statement from Gerry Ritz, minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Ed Fast, minister of International Trade.

“Re-opening, maintaining and expanding market access for Canadian agriculture and agri-food products is an important part of our plan. With annual exports worth over $40bn in 2011, the agriculture and agri-food sector is a key driver of Canada’s economy.”

Negotiating trade

Beef highlights include restoring access for Canadian beef under 30 months of age (UTM) to South Korea, with projected economic benefits of $30m by 2015, and achieving access to the Chinese market for Canadian UTM deboned beef. The report estimates that the Chinese market could be worth $110m once full access for Canadian beef and cattle is achieved.

The government has also negotiated an increased in the most-favoured-nation (MFN) beef tariff rate quota (TRQ) for hormone-free beef in the US, with exports, from 20,000 tonnes to 48,200 tonnes by August 2012. “This increase creates the potential for enhanced economies of scale for exporters and a more predictable trading environment as the likelihood of the quota reaching its threshold is reduced,” states the report.

Other achievements include the lifting of avian influenza-related restrictions on Canadian poultry in Japan and the lifting of a temporary ban on Canadian animal by-products in Indonesia, which was imposed after Canada’s 18th reported BSE case.

The report also highlights the work done by the government to challenge US country-of-origin labelling, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) appellate body recently confirming that the US is violating its trade obligations by insisting on country-of-origin labelling of meat products.

“We were able to coordinate a very complex and successful process to gather evidence to support the discrimination claim,” said John Masswohl, executive director of international relations at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) in the report.

“Our case did not solely rely on legal arguments, but required hard data from producers. Because of the close cooperation between the Canadian government and the industry, we were able to collect this information, which was instrumental in putting forward a strong case.”

Meat industry welcome

The report has been welcomed by Canada's meat industry. Canadian Meat Council (CMC) executive director, James Laws, said: “International trade is crucial to the health and competitiveness of Canada’s livestock and meat sector since this country produces significantly more meat than its 34.9 million citizens can consume.

"Canada’s livestock producers and meat processors have the production capacity, technical knowledge, high quality products and international expertise to compete and win in the international marketplace."

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