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Producer groups lobby for TPP deal in Atlanta

(Tkeban Jahannes photo courtesy via Flickr)

Several Canadian grain and livestock commodity groups have representatives in Atlanta this week pressing for federal negotiators to keep Canada in play on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trade ministers from the 12 TPP countries — also including the U.S., Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam — are meeting in Atlanta Wednesday and Thursday, following four days of talks between TPP negotiators.

Among the commodity groups in Atlanta is the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, which said Monday its representatives are there “to support International Trade Minister Ed Fast at what is widely anticipated to be the concluding negotiations” of a TPP deal.

TPP meetings in Hawaii in July concluded without a deal “due to the complexities of the negotiations,” the CCA said.

With skin in the TPP game, Canada stands to “double or triple” its annual beef exports to Japan alone, to nearly $300 million, the CCA said, by eliminating the 38.5 per cent tariff on Canadian beef in Japan.

A TPP deal, the CCA said, would restore Canada’s “competitive position” with Australian beef, as Australia and Japan have already implemented a bilateral free trade deal that puts the Australian product at a “growing tariff advantage.”

“Potential wins” for Canadian beef producers in a TPP could also include the end of tariffs on Canada’s beef exports to Vietnam and Malaysia, the CCA said.

A TPP deal should also address “exclusion of some beef access” from Canada’s trade pacts with Peru and Chile, in force since 2009 and 1997 respectively.

The Canadian Pork Council and other members of the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) also have representatives in Atlanta this week, the council said in a separate release.

“Canada must negotiate to be part of a TPP deal or risk becoming uncompetitive in several of our most valuable markets”, CPC vice-chair Bill Wymenga said Monday.

Canadian hog producers, if left out of a TPP deal, would see “a negative impact on the economic viability of the industry, resulting in cutbacks and, most likely, closures” for farms, processors and exporting companies, he said.

On the other hand, the council said, a TPP deal would preserve Canada’s pork export market to Japan, give Canada an advantages selling pork into Japan over non-TPP exporters such as the European Union and Brazil, and provide “significantly improved terms of access” to TPP markets such as Vietnam.

“We need an ambitious TPP deal to grow the value of canola exports in the Asia Pacific region,” Brian Innes, vice-president of government relations for the Canola Council of Canada, said in a separate release. “The status quo means our industry will be struggling against the current just to stay where we are.”

The canola council, which also has officials in Atlanta this week, estimated Canada, if left out of the TPP, would see $14 billion in “lost export opportunity” over the course of the deal.

For example, under the free trade deal between Australia and Japan, the CCC said, tariffs on Australian canola oil are to be phased out over the next eight years. Canadian canola oil today enters Japan with tariffs of 13 per cent and 16 per cent on crude and refined oil respectively, two and three per cent above the current tariffs on Australian product.

An “ambitious” TPP deal that includes Canada and ends tariffs on canola oil and meal could boost overall value of Canada’s annual exports by $780 million per year, the council said.

The Canadian Meat Council, which represents federally-inspected meat packers, said countries in the TPP negotiations account for 77 per cent of Canadian meat exports.

“Abstention by Canada is not a viable option for the export-dependent agriculture and agri-food sector of this country,” council president Joe Reda said Monday. “The decisions that are made this week will determine whether the sector looks backward to the past and withers or whether it looks forward to the future and grows.”

“It is crucial that Canada be a part of the TPP so that the competitors in the U.S. and Australia do not gain preferential access to key markets in the Pacific Rim,” Western Canadian Wheat Growers president Levi Wood said in a separate release, noting the benefits for the pork and beef sectors could help reduce grain growers’ reliance on exporting raw grain by rail.

“Our export interests should not be sacrificed to maintain protectionism in other sectors,” he said.

Other TPP countries including the U.S. and New Zealand have urged Canada to allow increased market access for commodities such as dairy and poultry in a TPP deal.

Groups representing Canada’s politically influential supply-managed sectors, such as the Chicken Farmers of Canada, have disputed such suggestions that their interests are blocking a TPP deal.

Canada, the CFC said previously, has already “successfully negotiated 12 trade agreements with 43 countries since 1994 and all of these have opened up new markets, improved trade rules, and preserved supply management.”

Besides, each of the TPP countries “has something that they want to keep,” the CFC said, citing U.S. import protections for sugar and dairy; Japan’s protection of its rice sector; and New Zealand having “always vigorously defended its pharmaceutical program.” — Network


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