Higher Priority on Bilateral Trade Called for

by 5m Editor
1 August 2008, at 11:58am

CANADA - The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan is encouraging Ottawa to shift its priority to bilateral trade agreements in the wake of the suspension of the latest round of World Trade organization negotiations, writes Bruce Cochrane.

On Tuesday the latest round of World Trade Organization discussions in Geneva were suspended after member nations failed to agree on blueprint agreements in agriculture and industrial products.

Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan president Glen Blakley says over the past numbers of years bilateral agreements have been signed by several countries and, in the absence of a world trade agreement, the onus is on our government to get out there and do a better job of selling the Canadian product.

Glen Blakley-Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan

The grains and oilseeds are doing relatively well right now so the world market is kind of taking care of the challenge there.

If they could develop some of the discussion that we understand went forward with the European countries on importing some of the Canadian pork, it would definitely be a benefit to a sector in our industry that's suffering very significantly.

On the other hand if they could open up some more markets for our beef industry that would also alleviate some of the problems we're having there.

I think those are the two areas I would suggest they target.

A number of the other countries have gone ahead and signed bilateral agreements not waiting for WTO to be the answer to all of their problems so I think Canada is maybe lagging a little behind.

Blakley says, while the suspension of the WTO talks in Geneva is disappointing, it isn't unexpected.

However he notes negotiators had reached agreement in a number of areas but they ran into a couple of roadblocks that led to the breaking off of talks.

He is confident the negotiations will eventually resume but he concedes extenuating circumstances, such as the U.S. election, will make it difficult get things going before this fall.

5m Editor