By Jonathan Martin
Canadian agri-food exporters are working to expand further into Asian trade markets.
Representatives of some of the world’s most powerful economies met in Tsukaba, Japan last weekend to discuss reforming some of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) policies.
Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), accompanied Canada’s minister of trade diversification, Jim Carr, on the trade mission.
“We were in both Japan and (South) Korea talking to customers about Canadian canola, beef, wheat and pork about the importance of our relationships and the and value we get from having trade agreements between our countries,” he told Farms.com.
On Dec. 30, 2018, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) came into force, which cuts tariffs on products exchanged between member nations.
Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam have signed the multilateral agreement.
“Other countries can now join the CPTPP,” Innes told Farms.com. “While we were in (South) Korea, we had a conversation about how it would be valuable for (South) Korea to join the agreement as well.”
Canada and South Korea signed a bilateral free-trade agreement in 2014 eliminating around 98 per cent of tariffs on goods traded between the countries. Agri-food exports to South Korea have increased by more than 20 per cent since the agreement became law.
Since the CPTPP came into force on Dec. 30, 2018, Canadian agri-food exports to Asian nations have raised around 12.5 per cent “over and above what they would have been without the CPTPP,” an April 2018 study found.
“Having (South) Korea in on the CPTPP would give us better access than we have under the current agreement,” Innes said. “It would allow us to have a rules system across multiple nations in Asia rather than rules system that applies only to (South) Korea.”
Innes told Farms.com he would like to see Indonesia and Thailand brought into the CPTPP as well.
“Asia is a fast-growing market with a strong import demand for the agri-food products we produce here in Canada,” he said.