Canada’s hog producers, pork processors and exporters are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to speed up completion of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea.
Several Canadian pork industry groups – including Canada Pork International, the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Meat Council – sent an open letter to the federal government, emphasizing that the industry’s third-largest market is at risk.
“The U.S. refers to the Korea-U.S. FTA as the most important FTA it has negotiated in nearly 20 years – and an agreement with Korea is no less important for Canada,” says Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council.
Jim Laws, executive director of the Canadian Meat Council, points out that other countries have negotiated FTAs with Korea and are poised to benefit at Canada’s expense.
Chile, for example, is now the third largest supplier to Korea, a direct result of conclusion of the FTA.
“If Chile had a larger herd, it would be an even more important supplier to Korea,” says Laws. “And now Korean customers are booking business with U.S. exporters in anticipation of the Korea-U.S. FTA. The U.S. expects a seven-fold increase in the volume of its exports to Korea.”
Tariffs on pork imported into the very price sensitive Korean market are in the 22.5 per cent to 25 per cent range. These tariffs are being phased out over 10 years or less for the U.S. (and the E.U.). Unless Canada has the same tariff preferences, it will lose out on $500 million of expected growth in its exports to Korea. And its second place in what is its third largest market, worth over $138 million in 2008, will be little more than a memory, say the groups.