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Change stance and move forward, says CPC of WTO agreement

by 5m Editor
16 October 2007, at 11:22am

CANADA - President of the Canadian Pork Council, Clare Schlegel says Canada must change tack on the World Trade Organistion's new multilateral trade agreement.

In a letter to Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, he makes it clear that CPC's is opposed to the country's rigid stance in market access negotiations - a position it says pulls back from what Canada agreed to in 2004.

Mr. Schlegel says that there is precious little time to settle the agreement and as the world's fourth largest agri-food exporter, Canada must make the most of the opportunity. He warns that as a WTO member, Canada agreed to the Framework for Establishing Modalities in Agriculture that was adopted by the General Council on 1 August 2004, under which there would be improvements in access for all products.

In his letter he points out that the current position being articulated by Canada places the country in violation of that commitment.

Representation
This week in Geneva, negotiators are involved in intensive discussions on domestic support and market access, two areas of great importance to all Canadian agriculture. Canadian pork producers have representatives there.

Canada is one of the world's leading exporters of pigs and pork products. In a recent study, the George Morris Centre, an independent economic research organisation, estimated that Canadian pork exports in 2005 were responsible for domestic economic activity amounting to almost $8 billion and over 40,000 jobs.

"Canada, to our knowledge, is the only one among the WTO's 151 member countries, which is seeking to back away from the 2004 agreement respecting agriculture", said Mr. Schlegel, an arable and pig producer from Perth County, Ontario. He says that walking away from a final deal is not an acceptable option for such a trade-dependent country.

"We must participate fully, and constructively, in these negotiations," he stressed.

5m Editor