EU access for Canadian red meat remains elusive


By Robert Arnason, The Western Producer (Canada) 

January 9, 2020


Canada is on pace to run a $150-million trade deficit in red meat with the European Union in 2019.


In the first 10 months of 2019, Canada exported more pork and beef to the EU than in 2018. But the Europeans are also selling more red meat to Canada.


Using Agriculture Canada statistics from January to October:


·         Canada imported $121 million in pork from the EU

·         Canada imported $31.5 million in beef from Europe

·         Canada exported $7 million in pork and $20 million in beef to the EU

·         Overall, Canada had a trade deficit with Europe of $125.5 million in pork and beef


If the pace of sales continued into November and December, Canada may have a red meat trade deficit, with the EU, of $150 million. That would be similar to 2018, when the deficit was $155 million.


The numbers aren’t pretty, seeing how the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) was touted as a boost for Canada’s red meat industry.


“When completely implemented, CETA is expected to result in $1.5 billion in new agri-food exports, including $600 million in beef, $400 million in pork,” the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance said after the deal entered provisional status in September 2017.


CAFTA still supports CETA, but it wants the federal government to defend the interests of Canadian exporters.


“The CETA has been in force for over two years yet real access to the EU market remains elusive for Canadian agri-food exporters as the European Union is slow to abide by its commitments,” CAFTA said in a release. “The federal government must not simply negotiate and ratify trade agreements; it must work with trading partners… to ensure what’s in the agreements is respected and enforced.”


CAFTA and other business groups are frustrated because the Europeans continue to impose non-tariff barriers to trade.


For pork, the barrier is trichinella.


“When the Canadian industry looks at what’s required to ship to China, versus what is required to ship into EU, they will ship to China,” said Gary Stordy, director of government and corporate affairs for the Canadian Pork Council.


“It’s more expensive to ship to the EU… because of some of the testing requirements.”


The EU expects shipments of Canadian pork to be tested for trichinella, a parasite that can infect swine and can be transferred to humans in undercooked or uncooked meat.


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