Free Trade Negotiations with Morocco Begin

by 5m Editor
31 January 2011, at 9:33am

CANADA - Canada's agriculture minister is confident enhanced trade with the Kingdom of Morocco will help ensure high quality food products are available year round for the mutual benefit of farmers and consumers in Canada and Morocco, writes Bruce Cochrane.

On Friday, at the conclusion of his agricultural trade mission to Morocco, Germany and Belgium federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz spoke with reporters to outline details of the launch of free trade agreement negotiations with the Kingdom of Morocco.

Ritz points out, although Canada's competitors have gained an advantage in that market over the past ten years, Morocco has always been and continues to be a key trading partner.

Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

In just the last five years the value of our wheat exports has more than doubled going from 113 million dollars in 2004 to almost 250 million dollars in 2009.

Morocco is also a key market for Canadian pulses, primarily peas and lentils, with exports totaling more than 14 million dollars in 2009.

With returns like this it's easy to see that Morocco is Canada's largest export market in the Middle East and Africa.

Unfortunately for more than a decade Canada was absent on the world stage and in that time the United States was able to ratify their own free trade agreement with Morocco which will give them preferential access on durum, wheat and pulses.

Farmers know that this government will not stand idly by and watch our competitors walk off with our market opportunities.

That is why we're here a short time ago to kick off exploratory discussions around how to make our trade relationship with Morocco even stronger.

No matter how you cut it, an agreement with Morocco will forge a stronger trading relationship that will benefit our farmers, food processors and the consumers of our two nations.

Minister Ritz notes Morocco is a trading hub throughout the Mediterranean and Africa.

He is optimistic this free trade agreement will open a gateway for new business in Morocco and beyond for Canadian farmers.