On February 1, 2018’s House of Commons’ Standing Committee on International Trade meeting, Canadian Pork Council (CPC) Second Vice-Chair René Roy outlined how trade plays a vital role in the industry’s prosperity and how it impacts the Canadian economy.
The purpose of the CPC’s appearance in front of the committee was to share the perspectives of Canada’s pork producers on the matter of a potential trade agreement between Canada and the Pacific Alliance.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before the standing committee and provide the perspectives of Canada’s pork producers on the matter of a potential trade agreement between Canada and the Pacific Alliance.
I am a producer from Saint-Jules, Quebec and here today as a member of the Board of Director’s and 2nd Vice Chairman for the Canadian Pork Council, the national voice for over 7,000 hog producers in Canada.
The meat industry is, by far, the largest component of this country’s food processing sector.
Our producers raise animals from coast to coast, with the largest pork production and processing facilities clustered in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Direct farm gate sales of Canadian pork in 2016 totaled $4.1 billion dollars and created over 31,000 farm jobs in rural Canada. The pork industry is a major contributor to Canada’s GDP.
Additionally, food processing creates more jobs than any other segment of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Providing employment for 65,000 workers, meat packing and processing plants are often either the primary or a major employer in towns and cities located across Canada.
Mr. Chairman, the members of this Committee are no doubt aware that export markets are absolutely critical to the current and future prosperity of the Canadian livestock and meat sector. Meat processors and exporters must identify foreign markets for more than 70% of Canadian pork.
Therefore, it should not be surprising that pork producers have been ardent and steadfast supporters of all initiatives that contribute to opening new export markets and expanding access to existing markets.
The Canadian Pork Council and producers welcomed the news out of Japan that an agreement was reached on the Comprehensive and Progressive Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP).
And we would like to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, International Trade Minister François Champagne, Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, the negotiating team and all other Canadian representatives that supported the request that this trade deal be concluded as soon as possible and contributed to making it happen.
Producers are confident Canadian pork will soon have competitive access to key markets in Japan, and in developing markets such as Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. The signing of this agreement in March and its ratification shortly thereafter, will only signal further investment in the sector.
Because of improved access to key markets, Canadian pork producers can keep doing what they do best knowing that their livelihood and that of thousands of other Canadians in rural and urban communities who work in the pork industry are supported by this latest agreement.
Canadian producers also welcome the Canadian government’s efforts to expand economic ties with the Pacific Alliance through a free-trade agreement.
A key reason for the growth of Canadian pork exports has been the establishment of free trade agreements with strategic partners. As you know, at present, Canada benefits from bilateral trade agreements with each of the members of the Pacific Alliance. The FTA with Mexico as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was brought into force on January 1, 1994. The FTA with Chile was implemented July 5, 1997, and the FTAs with Peru and Colombia were brought into force on August 1, 2009, and August 15, 2011, respectively.
We see the potential agreement between Canada and the Pacific Alliance as an opportunity to improve exports in several areas. However, recognizing the importance of questions I would like to highlight just a few key points and leave it to my colleague Mr. Lavoie to expand further.
When considering negotiating objectives, the Canadian Pork Council requests three things:
- The first, that the allocation process in Colombia for Canadian pork products be simplified;
- The second, that the Colombian government recognize the Canadian swine herd as trichina-free, permitting exports of chilled pork to that market;
- And third, that the quota for Canadian pork products be drastically increased and the existing tariff rate reduced in Peru.
Before I wrap up, Mr. Chairman.
It is plain to see how hog producers and processors benefit from improved market access. However, we can’t forget the impact it has on Canadians. Studies regularly show that the top concerns of Canadian consumers are the rising cost of food and keeping healthy food affordable.
A globally competitive, Canadian pork industry will ensure Canadians have access to locally-produced, high quality, competitively-priced, pork and pork products. However, we can’t meet this expectation if we are locked into the domestic market.
I would like to thank the committee for the invitation to appear before you today and for your attention.
I would be pleased to answer your questions.