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Changing Approach to Trade Deals Creates New Pork Export Opportunities

2 February 2016, at 6:00am

CANADA - The Executive Director of the Canadian Pork Council says Canada's shift away from dependence on the World Trade Organization to secure access to trade to a greater focus on regional trade agreements has created new opportunities for Canada's pork sector, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Canada's pork industry exports about 70 per cent of the product it produces to markets around the world as well as live hogs to the US and so is particularly dependant on access to trade.

"Changing Trade Agreements: Opportunities for the Canadian Pork Industry" was among the topics discussed earlier this month as part of the 2016 Banff Pork Seminar.

Martin Rice, the Executive Director of the Canadian Pork Council, says for a number of years Canada was stuck on finishing the WTO.

Martin Rice-Canadian Pork Council:

Although we had NAFTA back in the late 80s, 89 I think, there was a sense, starting with the late 90s, the Seattle meeting and other WTO meetings that we would see a new very ambitious WTO agreement that would have had significant reductions in agricultural protection and that ultimately floundered.

In the meantime we had fairly limited focus on free trade agreements.

Meanwhile countries like Chile was doing a bunch of bilaterals, Mexico was doing a bunch of bilaterals, the US was doing a little bit but they too had put their eggs on the WTO basket.
That changed in the mid-2000s.

The Canadian government realized this is not going to work, the WTO is not where things are going to be resolved very soon and we've got to make sure we don't get left behind our competitors who have these trade deals happening.

We saw a new focus, particularly in the Harper government, and when they decided, let's do a deal with Europe and we'll get something, maybe instead of trying to catch up with the others we'll get something that puts us ahead.

Rice points out, meanwhile there were several other important trade deals and then the Trans-Pacific Partnership so, we've seen a movement away from the WTO as where our access conditions are best addressed to these regional trade deals.

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