Ottawa, Ontario – Leon Benoit, Member of Parliament for Vegreville-Wainwright, recently laid out our Conservative Government’s record on expanded trade opportunities for the agricultural sector. These opportunities directly benefit the sector, and range from ongoing trade negotiations, to signed agreements, to improved international access for Canadian farmers and overseas markets. “Since taking office in 2006, our Government has understood that opening trade for all sectors of the Canadian economy goes hand-in-hand with an increase in jobs, growth and long-term prosperity,” said Benoit.
Canadians are recovering from the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, but through the Economic Action Plan, Canadian farmers have never been more open for business. At home, Benoit was pleased to vote to end the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board, allowing choice for Canadian wheat, durum, and barley farmers to market their product. “We must focus on the future opportunities that marketing freedom affords farmers,” Benoit noted on the occasion. “But, the accomplishments extend beyond our borders. Internationally, Canada has opened new markets, giving farmers a chief spot at the negotiating table.”
Canada has already started to implement free trade with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which includes Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway; as well as with Peru and Colombia. In the near future, Canada will begin free trade with Jordan, Panama and Honduras, whose free trade negotiations have been signed and concluded. These agreements will help the agricultural sector achieve its full potential, with key agricultural inputs such as machinery, technology, knowledge and expertise. “I’m very proud to represent our agricultural community as part of this Government – a Government that has continually demonstrated its respect for free and open markets. It can have nothing but positive results for farmers,” added Benoit.
Benoit also made note of Canada’s continued effort to expand trade and open our markets to the emerging economies of South America, Asia and Europe. Canada has ongoing trade negotiations with many trading partners, including:
- the European Union, including Germany;
- the remaining three of the Canada-Central America Four Countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua);
- South Korea;
- the Caribbean Community (CARICOM);
- the Dominican Republic;
- Morocco; and
- the modernization of our current trade agreement with Costa Rica.
The Conservative Government understands the importance of engaging the world’s fastest growing economies – economies that have a high demand for Canadian agricultural products. Canada has embarked on exploratory free trade discussions with Japan, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. “Engaging the emerging economies will ensure a high-demand environment for Canadian farmers for years to come,” Benoit noted.
Benoit was clear about the immediate benefits that free trade is providing for farmers. Benoit and the Conservative Government have been instrumental in reopening and expanding access for cattle, beef, beef products and bovine genetics in countries such as China, Hong Kong, Colombia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Panama, Singapore, Costa Rica, Vietnam, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Access for Canadian pork and swine in high-demand countries such as China, Malaysia, Mongolia, Russia, South Korea, the Philippines, Ukraine, Jordan, Peru, and Thailand have been reopened and expanded. “The quality and safety of Canadian agriculture is in high demand, and I have no doubt that Canadian farmers will rise to the occasion,” said Benoit.
Regarding the direct economic benefit of Canada’s efforts worldwide, Benoit did not hesitate to provide the hard facts to Canadians. “Through the Government’s effort to reopen access to the South Korea market for Canadian beef and beef products, a market – worth $30 million for Canadian producers – will exist by 2015. By reopening the Vietnamese market for Canadian live breeding cattle, sheep, and goats, Canadian industry will be allowed to compete for a share in this market, with an estimated value of up to $50 million. Closer to home, the reopened United States market for canola oil exports – for biodiesel production – will result in a market valued at $450 million for Canadian exporters,” Benoit noted. “These are proven signs that even though Canada’s economy remains fragile, we are committed to strengthening our economic advantage abroad, now more than ever.”
The facts and numbers speak for themselves. Canada is on a strong and responsible track to expanding its markets, worldwide. Benoit stresses that it is all part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to recovery, jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. “Providing the choice for farmers at home, and the opportunities for farmers abroad, gives them the tools they need to play their part in the growth of Canada’s agricultural sector,” Benoit added.