Canadian meat is currently severely disadvantaged in the United Kingdom (UK) market. The main obstacle is the UK’s full acceptance of Canada’s food safety system which is widely recognized as one of the finest in the world. The Government of Canada has supported the UK’s bid to join CPTPP without first achieving viable access for Canadian beef and pork to the UK. Canadian farmers and ranchers need the Government of Canada to stand up for the meat sector and rectify this unequal situation through the current negotiations of the UK-Canada Bilateral Trade Agreement. Addressing these barriers will create a win-win situation for both industries and consumers across both markets. Failure to address these unfair barriers, will continue to hurt Canadian farmers and ranchers, processors, and rural communities across Canada.
When the UK officially left the European Union in 2020, the UK needed to renegotiate its trade agreements with other countries. Canada and the UK signed an interim agreement and agreed to negotiate a new UK-Canada free trade agreement. At the same time, the UK applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). For the UK to join, there had to be unanimous consent from all CPTPP Members. The UK started several individual trade negotiations with CPTPP members, including Canada, to secure their CPTPP bid and obtain favorable trade outcomes. While other CPTPP Members secured unlimited beef access in their bilateral agreements with the UK before supporting the UK’s bid to join CPTPP, Canada supported the UK’s bid without first resolving Canada’s meat industry’s main obstacles to enter the UK market. Therefore, the Canadian beef and pork industries will work to delay CPTPP legislation, necessary for Canada to approve the UK’s membership, until our obstacles are addressed. Under the current system, there is no viable market access for beef and pork, so the sector is calling on the government to ensure the Canada-UK bilateral agreement currently being negotiated guarantees fair access.
Although Canada has market access into the UK meat market (within the limits of a tariff rate quota), unjustified non-tariff barriers are preventing Canadian meat from accessing the UK market. These non-tariff barriers are not based in science and do not meet international standards and unfairly disadvantage Canadian farmers and processors. If we let these non-tariff barriers endure, Canada will continue to export zero beef to the UK while the UK will keep increasing their beef exports to Canada. Canadian beef farmers, packers and processors are asking for a fair deal where meat can go both ways and not be hindered by non-tariff barriers.
Under the UK’s current system, thereis no viable market access for beef, so the sector is calling on the governmentto ensure the Canadian/United Kingdom bilateral agreement currently beingnegotiated will guarantee fair access. In this agreement, Canada can negotiatebetter access and a removal of the non-tariff barriers. We want fair trade that includes theUK accepting Canada’s full food safety system so that beef and pork producerscan have viable access to the UK market. Failing that, we are asking Parliament to ensure producers andprocessors for both products are fairly compensated for the damages and lossesthat will result. Our sector relies on trade and have historically always beenproponents of Canada’s trade agreements. However, we need to stand up
Free and open trade is key to the beef industry’s success, as over 50 per cent of Canadian beef is exported around the globe. In 2022, our industry hit a new export record high of C$4.6billion of beef exports, the seventh record year in a row. This great success is largely attributed to increased market access. Trade is essential to the long-term sustainability of the meat sector and helps rural economies across Canada, in addition to supplying consumers in Canada and around the world. If ambitious and beneficial trade deals like CPTPP are compromised by new entrants who do not meet the progressive standards of the agreement, the entire agreement will lose its value as standards are lowered. We need to stand up for strong and progressive trade principles as demonstrated in the original CPTPP. Already, there are four more applicants set to join CPTPP and several other countries have expressed their interest. For international trade to work properly and fairly, countries need to adhere to science-based approaches in their regulations and policies that meet progressive international standards.