Canadian beef producers applaud new NAFTA

The new North American trade agreement came into force on July 1.

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The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) applauds the entry into force of the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on July 1 and looks forward to the continued growth of the benefits of free trade, notes a news release from the association. CCA thanks all those involved in negotiating the agreement and the stewarding of the agreement through the respective government processes in a time sensitive manner.

For three decades, the cattle and beef producers in Mexico, Canada, and the United States (U.S.) have competed and prospered under the trade framework of NAFTA. Under the new NAFTA (known officially as the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement or CUSMA in Canada), Canada’s beef producers will continue to enjoy the benefits of duty-free trade and market-driven demands for beef, live cattle and genetics.

“In the face of the economic hardships of COVID-19, it is timely and welcome that the new NAFTA enters into force, providing the continuation of economic stability for our rural communities, food systems, and the broader North American economy,” states Bob Lowe, CCA president.

In addition to preserving duty-free trade in live cattle and beef, CCA is pleased that the existing rules of origin and the vital dispute settlement provisions remain intact, allowing us to continue to build on the success we have all enjoyed as partners under NAFTA. Following implementation, CCA encourages further regulatory cooperation and efforts to advance coordinated supply chains across all three countries.

The CCA continues to encourage the Government of Canada to create new opportunities for beef exports. International trade agreements and market access are crucial to the beef processors, ranchers, allied manufacturers and companies in the food supply chain and will positively impact both the agricultural sector and the broader Canadian economy.

The benefit of a strong beef industry is also not only economical in nature, but also environmental, the news release notes. The North American beef industries protect through sustainable use, the at-risk Great Plains ecosystem. Here in Canada, beef producers protect and sustainably utilize 44.2 million acres of grasslands.

The implementation of the original NAFTA led to a significant growth in jobs and contribution to the Canadian GDP by the beef industry. Canadian beef exports to the U.S. grew 67 per cent in volume and 338 per cent in value from 190,000 tonnes valued at $530 million in 1995 to 317,000 tonnes valued at $2.3 billion in 2019. Similarly, beef exports to Mexico grew 15 times in volume and 32 times in value from 1,000 tonnes valued at $3.7 million in 1995 to 16,500 tonnes valued at $126 million in 2019. Impressive growth attributed to NAFTA was also experienced in the U.S. and Mexico.

The CCA will continue to be an advocate for rules-based, stable international trade. The experience of the beef cattle industries of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. under NAFTA is a testament to the value of trade agreements and their ability to assist our nation in post-COVID-19 recovery.

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