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CANADA - The Canadian Meat Council is confident, once ratified, a new free trade agreement with South Korea will help restore Canada's position as a preferred supplier of pork and beef to that market.
In March Canada concluded a free trade agreement with South Korea that will phase out tariffs on Canadian pork and beef entering that market but the deal still must be ratified by the two governments.
Ron Davidson, the director of international trade, government and media relations with the Canadian Meat Council, says free trade negotiations with South Korea, which had begun in 2005, had become interrupted due to issues related the auto industry, agriculture and others and while those discussions were stalled several of Canada's key competitors, including the United States, the European Union and Chile, reached their own agreements, so this deal is critical.
Ron Davidson-Canadian Meat Council:
Our sales to Korea were increasing substantively when we started falling behind in market access.
Our sales had risen to 233 million dollars in 2011 and we were looking forward to increasing our sales there as that country continues to expand and consume more pork so it was significant for us.
In the case of beef the situation was a little bit more complicated because we had had a problem since BSE discovery in Canada in 2003 we had been excluded from that market but then we got back in so we were starting to rebuild our sales in the last couple of years before we again lost the tariff preference and they started declining again.
Mr Davidson notes under the new agreement tariff reductions on Canadian products will be phased in over time and since Canada's main competitors already have deal in place they already have a head start.
He says the hope is that the agreement will be ratified by the two governments by January 1st to keep Canada from falling further behind.
TheMeatSite News Desk