Canadian Negotiators Urged to Make Agriculture a Priority at World Trade Talks

by 5m Editor
11 February 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1444. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Manitoba Pork Council

Farm-Scape is sponsored by
Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1444

The President of Maple Leaf Foods International says European limits on foreign pork imports and its various subsidies on pork are eroding the Canadian industry's competitive edge globally.

In December the European Commission announced aid to private storage, which allows pork to be put into subsidized storage when world prices are low for release when prices are higher, then in January it re-introduced export subsidy payments for pork to markets outside the European Community.

At the same time, Canadian pork is effectively blocked from the European market. Ted Bilyea says these developments have prompted the Canadian industry to reevaluate the approach being taken at the World Trade Organization.

"The pork industry has taken a lot of time, with producers and processors and exporters meeting for the past several months, and trying to understand what the best strategy for pork would be.

It really boils down to the fact that there are not that many great markets. There are some that are very good and then there's a lot of other markets that are required to fill in.

The EU is one of those markets that is very important which we can not access at all. We need to put it as a higher priority, I think, on our trading list.

When we go to the WTO and look at Canada's best interest we have to recognize that agrifood is really the largest single industry in the country and, if we do not negotiate well for the agrifood business, the country is not going to be as successful as it could be".

Bilyea says Canada has a significant natural comparative advantage in terms of land, soil, water and animal to human ratios worldwide, but in particular with the EU, and a significant competitive advantage in terms of cost structures.

He suggests there is a need to take a harder look at Canada's trade policy as it relates to the agrifood industry.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor