by BETTER FARMING STAFF
South Africa is threatening to file a complaint against Canadian pork exports at the World Trade Organization (WTO) according to a report in The Globe and Mail on Monday. However, no such complaint has been filed, leaving Canadian pork officials in a wait-and-see position.
“South Africa has not made any notification of any measure they intend to take that would change the status quo,” says Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council, the national voice for hog producers in Canada.
The Globe and Mail’s Africa reporter cited unnamed sources in his story, published on the front page of the business section. The story says there has been a “backlash” from South African pork producers against Canadian pork and that “the producers apparently allege that leftover pieces of Canadian pork at South African abattoirs are finding their way into the food chain of local farms, causing outbreaks of animal diseases.” Sources from the same story say that, “instead of a formal WTO complaint against Canada, it is possible that South Africa will impose new health restrictions on pork imports, which would disproportionally affect Canadian exporters.”
Rice says Canada exports fresh and frozen cuts of meat to South Africa along with trimmings that could, for example, be made into sausage. “None of the pork would be going into animal feed,” Rice says. “It would be just too expensive an input.”
Jacques Pomerleau, president of Canada Pork International, which is the export promotion agency for the Canadian pork industry, says until South Africa makes a move, there is nothing to say. “Canada has yet to be notified by South Africa on any proposed changes so it’s difficult for us to comment on something we haven’t seen.” He did say, however, “We expect South Africa will comply with the WTO process.”
Last year, Canada exported 1.5 million metric tons of pork for a total value of $3.2 billion. Of that, 10,000 tons went to South Africa for a value of $20 million. While the market is relatively small compared to what we export to the United States, Japan, South Korea, Russia and China, it is still significant, Rice says.
If the South African government goes to the WTO, Rice says, there will be an opportunity for Canada to respond before any changes are made.
“If there’s something (in the notification) that we disagree with, we have the opportunity to challenge it at the WTO level,” Rice says. If consultations fail to resolve the matter, he says, Canada can go into a dispute settlement process. “Usually,” Rice says, “there are ways to avoid that.”
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, responding by email to a Better
Farming request for comment, said, “The Canadian government continues
to work to maintain and expand market access for Canadian pork
“Canada and South Africa maintain a good trading relationship through
the Annual Canada-South Africa Bilateral Consultation Mechanism and
through regular meetings between Canadian and South African
“The Canadian pork industry maintains extremely high health standards
for its livestock and for its pork processing and distribution
systems to meet the highest and most stringent food safety standards
at home and abroad." BF