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Canada & Japan Launch Economic Agreement

by 5m Editor
27 March 2012, at 8:06am

CANADA & JAPAN - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Japan to launch negotiations of an Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan that will benefit both countries' agricultural industries.

Minister Ritz led a diverse delegation of Canadian agriculture industry to Japan and met with Japanese beef, pork, grain and oilseed buyers in an effort to grow market opportunities for Canada's safe, high-quality products.

"Free trade between Japan and Canada will help ensure agriculture and food products are available in both countries for the mutual benefit of farmers and consumers," said Minister Ritz. "Canada's agriculture producers and processors are a key part of Canada's economy which is why our Government continues to make international trade a priority."

Canada is committed to deepening its economic ties with Japan by ensuring that trade flows freely between the countries. Japan is the third largest economy in the world and is Canada's second largest agriculture market. Japan's market is worth almost $4 billion for Canadian farmers and food processors. Japan is the second largest market for Canadian exporters with total pork and pork products worth almost $900 million in 2011. Canada's "heart smart" canola oil also holds 40 per cent of Japan's edible oil market and is worth approximately $1.4 billion to Canada.

Minister Ritz met with his Japanese counterpart, Minister Michihiko Kano, and thanked Japan for its recent decision to review its domestic and import regulations for beef, which Canada hopes will lead to expanded access beyond under 21 months. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association estimates that this move will more than double Canadian beef sales to Japan for a total of $160 million in the first year of full access.

By partnering with the Canadian Wheat Board, the Canadian Grain Commission and the Grain Growers of Canada, Minister Ritz was able to guarantee the Japanese grain industry of continued supply of Canada's world-class wheat and barley. Japan is Canada's third largest market for wheat with exports in 2011 totalling $471 million. Canada is Japan's largest malt supplier and is responsible for 40 per cent of malt imports.

After Japan, Minister Ritz travelled to South Korea to reiterate Canada's support for increased agriculture trade between the two countries. Canadian agriculture and food exports to South Korea totalled more than $1 billion in 2011. Minister Ritz expressed support for South Korea's recent science-based decision to allow the import of Canadian beef under 30 months of age. Canada's beef industry estimates that this restored market access could mean more than $30 million for Canadian producers by 2015. South Korea was Canada's fourth-largest market before the 2003 bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak.