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Call for Stepped Up Efforts to Secure Free Trade with S Korea

12 December 2013

CANADA - The Canadian Pork Council is encouraging the federal government to step up its efforts to secure a free trade agreement with South Korea, writes Bruce Cochrane.

While free trade negotiations between Canada and the Republic of Korea have been stalled since 2008 Canada's major competitors in the pork industry, most notably the United States and Europe, have negotiated free trade agreements under which duties on their pork, 25 per cent on chilled product and 22.5 per cent on frozen, will be phased out over ten years.

Canadian Pork Council executive director Martin Rice notes Canada was one of the first countries to export pork to South Korea and at times South Korea has been the Canadian pork industry's third or fourth most important market.

Martin Rice-Canadian Pork Council

It does partly depend on Korea's own domestic production and self sufficiency and level but sometimes there's been very very large and important opportunities for Canadian pork exports into that country and we were seeing significant success in expanding our exports of higher value pork items into that country particularly chilled pork and we've seen those opportunities diminish and even disappear in recent years as we have been left without a deal.

Our interest is in Canada achieving an agreement with Korea that has terms that are as close as possible to those of the United States and to get it implemented at the earliest opportunity which then lessens the gap that we experience between the terms of our exports into South Korea versus the US and Europe's.

Then of course the expectation would be that in less than a decade from now we would be back having the same terms of access as all of our competitors into South Korea.

Mr Rice says if a Canada South Korea free trade agreement could be worked out, accepted by both parliaments and in place by 2015 Canada would be three years behind the US and Europe in terms of tariff reductions on pork so timing is also important.

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