Farmers ask trade minister to step up trade talks

CANADA - Several national agriculture groups are calling on the federal Trade minister to step up negotiations with some of Canada's traditional trading partners in an effort to stay competitive with the United States.

Nine organizations, including the Canadian Wheat Board, the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, sent David Emerson a letter earlier this week asking him to speed up bilateral talks with several countries the groups consider a priority.

Recent free trade deals between the United States and Peru and Columbia will put Canadian wheat and barley exports at a significant disadvantage, Victor Jarjour, the wheat board's chief trade representative, said in an interview from Ottawa.

Another deal with Morocco that just came into effect is expected to hurt Canadian durum producers.

"We really feel it's important and critical that Canada keep up with the Americans because we're competitive in so many areas, including wheat, oilseeds and pork," said Jarjour.

"You can't let the Americans get ahead of you in those markets and have their goods subjected to a lower tariff than Canadian goods or you lose those markets, or you lose a lot of money."

The same coalition of farm groups first took its case to former Liberal Trade minister Jim Peterson.
Source: CTV
calendar icon 10 March 2006
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