WINNIPEG — Canadian beef exports to Japan could double or even triple if Canada is successful in signing onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to an industry official.
“We did a little over $100 million worth of beef exports to Japan last year, that’s with a 38.5 percent tariff,” said John Masswohl, director of government and international relations with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
There is a general feeling the Canadian beef sector could hike that figure to a quarter billion or $300 million dollars in the Japanese market, he said.
“One of the challenges is Australia recently implemented a free trade agreement with Japan. So even though we’re still paying the 38.5 percent, Australia is down to 31 percent, so they have a seven percent advantage,” he noted.
Japan and the United States are the two dominant figures in the TPP, but already there is speculation China may join the partnership sometime down the road.
The TPP would lower trade barriers and establish a common framework for labour laws and economic policy. It would also enforce rules and set up a dispute settlement mechanism.
Masswohl said it will be better for Canada to get in at the ground level than to wait for an opportunity years from now.
“It will be even more costly (in terms of benefits and tariffs) to get in later when we have our cap in our hand saying, ‘will you let us back in?’ ” said Masswohl.
The deal comes at a crucial time for Canada. A federal election is expected to happen within the next 90 days and the U.S. is also preparing for the election season.
“In terms of getting this agreement all approved before the election cycle heats up in the U.S., it really means the deal has to be done (soon),” he said.
According to multiple reports. one of the issues holding up Canada’s entrance to the partnership is its reluctance to relax the volume of dairy shipments it would allow into its domestic market.