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Canadian agricultural exporters urge Trans Pacific Partnership without U.S.

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The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), added its voice to the long list of Canadian agricultural exporters urging the federal government to achieve a trade deal with the 11 remaining Trans Pacific Partnership members.

The planned summit in Vietnam next week represents a unique opportunity for Canada to take the forefront in negotiations as the second largest economy in the group, CAFTA president Brian Innes said in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“With uncertainties surrounding NAFTA, it’s essential for our globally competitive agriculture and agri-food sector to have improved access to markets in the dynamic Asia Pacific region,” the release stated.

CAFTA represents the beef, pork, meat, grains, cereals, pulses, soybeans, canola as well as the sugar, malt, and processed food industries anxious to see improved access to key Asian markets through the TPP.

“More than 90 per cent of Canada’s farmers depend on world markets, and the sectors CAFTA represents support over a million jobs in urban and rural communities across Canada,” the release said.

Canadian exporters have been stepping up pressure on negotiators to secure the TPP, which was left in limbo after the U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement shortly after his election.

With the prospects for a renewed NAFTA looking increasingly slim, the emphasis has shifted to how Canada can better diversify its trade.

McInnes said Japan is a critical high-value market, purchasing nearly $4 billion in Canadian agri-food exports in 2016. He noted Japan is equally eager and has been pressing for a deal for months.

Australia and Chile already have free trade agreements with Japan and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement will slash 85 per cent of Japanese tariffs on European agriculture and food products, he said.

“The status quo is not an option. The more time slips by, the more time our competitors have an advantage and the further we fall behind in the Japanese market. This means lost opportunities for economic growth and jobs here in Canada,” he said.

Grain Growers of Canada also issued a release.

“Grain farmers are relying on our government to seize this opportunity and ensure timely agreement and ratification of a trade partnership with the current 11 nations of the TPP,” Grain Growers of Canada President Jeff Nielsen said.

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