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CCA Report: Trade front and centre

From the December 2016 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) has long understood the important role of trade and market access in securing long-term competitiveness for the beef industry. We have expended much time and money over many years to ensure trade pacts produce meaningful results for beef producers and enable trade to flow unimpeded. As important as securing the right terms in agreements are the ongoing advocacy and relationship building activities we undertake to maximize opportunities around the world for Canadian beef and beef products and to ward off the creation of new barriers.

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The latest focus of such efforts is a strategy to deal with the unresolved technical barriers in the European Union that if left unresolved can significantly undermine the potential for Canadian beef exports under the Comprehensive-Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). I have personally discussed CETA with International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland on numerous occasions and am confident that the minister fully appreciates the desire of the Canadian beef industry to gain true meaningful access to the EU.

As part of our effort, CCA was represented by foreign trade vice-chair Doug Sawyer in Brussels last month just prior to Canada signing the agreement to highlight the immense potential of CETA for the Canadian beef sector but also to emphasize the need to resolve the outstanding technical barriers. CCA representatives in Uruguay for the World Meat Congress also had opportunity to discuss the technical issues with European industry counterparts attending the meeting there.

The nature of the unresolved issues in CETA involves the approval of important anti-microbial treatments used in Canadian packing facilities. The Canadian Meat Council, representing federally inspected packers is taking the lead on preparing the dossiers to submit to the European Food Safety Authority to demonstrate the efficacy of citric acid and peroxyacetic acid in reducing bacteria such as E. coli in red meat processing.

In mid-November, following discussion by the CCA foreign trade committee, I had the opportunity to present the CCA’s view on CETA to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on International Trade. The CCA is supporting the implementation of the CETA and passage of legislation to do so, but we have three conditions. First, we will expect a commitment from the Government of Canada to develop and fully fund a comprehensive strategy utilizing technical, advocacy and political skills to achieve the elimination of the remaining non-tariff barriers to Canadian beef.

Second, we expect that any EU beef or veal imported into Canada is in full compliance with Canadian food safety requirements.

Third, we expect that the beef sector will be afforded the same consideration as other sectors in terms of Government of Canada investment into both beef processing and beef producer operations to help us comply with the complexities of the EU market.

I am pleased to see that Japan ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in November. As a result of this, coupled with the uncertainty in the U.S. over the future of the TPP, CCA is seeking a renewed focus on a Canada-Japan bilateral agreement that could embrace the important details that were negotiated for market access in the TPP.

The CCA supports forward-thinking trade pacts like the TPP which ensure Canadian beef producers can compete fairly in a global marketplace, create jobs for Canadians and contribute to the economic growth and long-term prosperity of the country. Ensuring meaningful trade was the reason CCA past president Dave Solverson travelled to Beijing as part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay’s trade mission to China. Importers and exporters he met with in Beijing expressed a keen interest in boosting supplies of Canadian beef under the staged agreement Canada has with China. Industry feels the bone-in access will be a big improvement and will lead to more commercially viable trade. There seemed to be a desire to progress to chilled beef as well. We will continue to work toward creating more opportunities for beef exports to China.

In the U.S., president-elect Donald Trump will need to address his campaign promises to renegotiate and improve existing trade agreements. However, there is no need to worry about those agreements being “torn up” — what’s more likely is they are renegotiated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signaled that he is interested in renegotiating NAFTA. While the mechanism to do this has yet to be decided, there are ample opportunities to negotiate through existing working groups and initiatives (such as the U.S. Regulatory Co-operation Council, of which CCA is a member) that are set up for precisely that purpose.

The CCA will be prepared to continue its excellent working relationships with our U.S. counterparts and looks forward to getting to know the people who will be taking up roles in the Trump administration. The Obama administration will continue into mid-January until the inauguration of Trump on Friday, January 20, 2017. In the meantime, Trump will be selecting his advisers and naming his cabinet in a transition process that will continue well into the spring and summer of 2017.

The CCA will work closely with Canadian government officials and the embassy in Washington, D.C. to continue to ensure the interests of Canadian beef producers are well represented.

And on that note, I would like to take this time to wish you and your family a very happy and joyful holiday season and peace in the new year.

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