Speaking to delegates at the World Meat Congress in Beijing, Ritz said: “Partnerships not protectionism is the only way to meet growing demand and we must remain vigilant to root out non-scientific trade barriers.
“One such barrier, for example, is that of mandatory US country of origin labelling (COOL),” he added, claiming that the move by US authorities, which was opposed by both the US trade, along with Canadian and Mexican authorities, simply added costs and hurdles to market supply. “Even trade barriers that are there remain unpredictable because of politically driven, non-science based barriers that continue to pop up.”
He said the Canadian authorities would continue to hold their US counterparts to account with the World Trade Organisation to try to overturn the decision on COOL.
He said the only way forward for the industry to meet a 60% demand growth for meat by 2050 was to push for free trade. “Production is only part of the equation,” he said. “Product has to be delivered on time and to spec, and that will only happen if trade routes are clear and fair.
“The UN has said there’s enough food, it’s just not getting where it needs to go, when it needs to get there. We continue to support free trade, based on sound science.”
The Canadian agriculture sector plays an important role within the country’s economy, he told the congress, with the sector employing one in five Canadians, and meat exports alone accounting for around CA$6bn.