Failure to Reach Free Trade Agreement Threatens Canadian Pork Industry Access to South Korea

Farmscape for March 16, 2011   (Episode 3537)

The president of Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates warns Canada's failure to work out a free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea threatens to effectively shut the Canadian pork industry out of that market.

The Canadian Pork Council, Canada Pork International and the Canadian Meat Council have sent an open letter urging prime minister Stephen Harper to help kick-start a resumption of free trade negotiations with the Republic of Korea.

Negotiations that began in 2005 have been stalled since about 2008.

Peter Clark, with Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates, notes since then key competitors in the pork industry, including Chile, the U.S. and the European Union have worked out their own agreements with South Korea.

Clip-Peter Clark-Grey, Clark, Shih and Associates:
The approach that Canada takes to these trade negotiations is they try to keep everybody happy and the people who are most unhappy with these negotiations are in the automotive industry.

They have their supporters in cabinet.

We know that Gerry Ritz has certainly been pushing hard for us but nothing's happened for a couple of years.

We're not really sure where trade minister Van Loan sits on this.

So, given that president Obama got involved in expediting completion of the Korea U.S. agreement we thought it would be appropriate to put it to the prime minister saying here's a chance to stand up for Canadians, specifically the pork sector.

We really need to get back to the table with the Koreans and see what can be harvested.

Is there any low hanging fruit that we can harvest to benefit Canadians.

Our view is that we should operate like the Mexicans do, very pragmatically, and if there are difficulties you set them aside and deal with them later once you've got the deal in place.

Clark notes duties on pork entering South Korea are very high, 22.5 percent on frozen pork, 25 percent on chilled pork and those duties will be eliminated within ten years for the U.S. the EU.

He warns, once the Koreans, set up their supply lines with people who will have free access to the market it'll be very difficult to play catch up later.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork Council