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Canada to be grilled over subsidies

By Carina Perkins , 04-Dec-2012
Last updated the 04-Dec-2012 at 11:44 GMT

TPP: Canada to face questioning over pork subsidies

Pig producers in Australia, New Zealand and the US have warned that Canada will be challenged over its pork subsidisation programme in the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

Canada is participating in the trade talks, which are taking place in Auckland, New Zealand on 3-12 December, for the first time since joining the TPP. In a joint statement, Australian Pork Limited (APL), the US National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and NZ Pork said the country would face “tough questions” over its domestic pork subsidies from their respective governments.

APL CEO Andrew Spencer said: “Australian pork producers, along with our counterparts in NZ and the US, opposed the entry of Canada to the TPP back in June, based on their continued heavy use of subsidies to their domestic pork industry.

“By benefiting from substantial government subsidy programmes, Canadian pork producers enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over hard-working Australian pork producers, who operate in a subsidy-free environment. This continued action by the Canadian government is, in Australian pork producers’ eyes, diametrically opposed to the goals and long term objectives the TPP group is striving to achieve. It is on these grounds that Australian pork producers seriously question Canada’s genuine commitment to the goals of the TPP.”

President of the NPPC RC Hunt added: “In reality we cannot compete on a level playing field. In the upcoming TPP round, you can bet your bottom dollar we will be putting pressure on Canada to do something about its pork subsidy programmes.”

According to NZ Pork CEO Owen Symmans, members of Canada’s own government have questioned its policy of subsidising pig famers. “I am aware that Canada’s own Federal Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz has specifically refused to endorse the Ontario Risk Management Program (RMP), which is one of a number of Canadian subsidy programmes,” he said.

“Minister Ritz denounced the RMP as ‘completely countervailable’ in comments to the Canadian House of Commons. Surely this is clear evidence that Canada’s tolerance for domestic subsidies for its pork industry is hypocritical and contrary to its participation in a free trade agreement like the TPP.”

The groups said that they would be supporting their governments’ efforts to remove “trade distorting barriers” and establish a true free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trading partners

Canada and Mexico joined Australia, NZ, the US, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam in the TPP last October. The partnership of 11 countries now has a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $20.5 trillion, which represents nearly 30% of global GDP.

Speaking ahead of the talks in Auckland, Canadian minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Ed Fast, said: "Latin America and Asia include some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

"Joining our largest trading partners-the United States and Mexico-in the TPP will strengthen trade and investment ties and supply chains between the Americas and Asia and create new opportunities for Canadian exporters seeking to expand into new markets or enhance their presence in existing markets."