CCA Urges Canadian Trade Negotiating Officials to Reach Out to South Korea

Farmscape for October 26, 2011   (Episode 3992)

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association is calling on Canada's trade negotiators to reach out to South Korea in an effort to restart free trade discussions that have remained in limbo since 2008.

Earlier this month the United States ratified a free trade agreement with South Korea that will see duties on U.S. beef entering that market phased down to zero over 15 years.

Last week representatives of Canada's red meat sector joined in calling on the Government of Canada to seek a resumption of free trade negotiations with South Korea.

Canadian Cattlemen's Association director of government and international relations John Masswohl says the fear is that the reduced tariffs on U.S. beef will further erode Canada's competitive position in that market.

Clip-John Masswohl-Canadian Cattlemen's Association:
We have been a little bit behind U.S. beef into the Korean market in that we have had no access for Canadian beef there since 2003.

The Americans have been in there since 2008.

We may get that sorted out very soon.

We're optimistic that we have an agreement to resolved the WTO dispute and under the terms of that agreement our expectation is that Korea would be accepting Canadian beef by December 31 of this year.

That could be just around the time that the Americans are implementing their free trade agreement so we'll be sitting with a 40 percent tariff on Canadian beef while the Korean tariff on American beef drops down by about two and a half percent so they'll have that little bit of an advantage.

Each year the tariff on U.S., beef will drop by about two and a half percent until gets down to zero after 15 years.

Masswohl urges negotiating officials in the two nations, particularly in Canada, to reach out to each other and schedule a meeting.

He is concerned that the Koreans have been successful with the U.S. and the European Union and may view Canada as not really being interested so it's important to send a message that Canada is serious about completing this agreement.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

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