by DAVE PINK
Canada’s acceptance into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is being warmly welcomed by the organizations representing the nation’s beef and dairy farmers.
“It gets us in the game,” says John Masswohl, director of government and international relations for the Calgary-based Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
The TPP already includes the United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia, with the expectation that Japan will join in the near future. Canada’s inclusion in the trade pact was finalized by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the G20 summit in Mexico this week.
“The real jewel will be when Japan gets in,” says Masswohl. “We can sell them high-value beef at good prices, and they’ll buy the products Canadians don’t want, like tongues and stomachs.”
Currently, he says, Japan applies a 38.5 per cent tariff on imported beef. Even so, the Japanese already buy $70 million worth of Canadian beef products every year.
“We think we can quadruple that,” says Masswohl. “If we can get into the Japanese market without that tariff we can get more money back to our producers.”
Canada is also completing bilateral trade talks with Japan, which Masswohl says could be double guarantee of access to the Japanese market.
And he’s hopeful of developing new markets in Vietnam.
“The Canadian beef industry is highly export dependent and we thank the prime minister for taking action that will increase market access,” CCA president Martin Unrau said in a news release.
As well, Masswohl is anticipating wider acceptance of international standards for beef production — standards Canadian producers already adhere to. He says the credibility of belonging to the TPP should bring about wider acceptance of the production standards. Canadian beef producers embraced those standards several years ago as they tried to regain international markets following the BSE scare.
Therese Bealieu, spokesperson for the Ottawa-based Dairy Farmers of Canada, said inclusion in the TPP has to be regarded as a positive thing — especially considering that the Canadian government promised earlier that it would not bargain away Canada’s supply management system for the sake of any trade deal. She said many people were puzzled that Canada’s TPP application was accepted despite objections to supply management from the U.S. and New Zealand.
While the sale of basic dairy commodities will probably not be affected by acceptance into the TPP, Canada’s dairy farmers could benefit from the export of fine cheeses as well an improvement in the already big market for dairy cattle and genetics. “Canada is already a big exporter of genetics,” says Beaulieu.
The current membership in the TPP represents a market of 510 million people and a total GDP of $17.6 trillion. BF