Put ag at centre of Canada-Brazil deal

Brazil and Canada have plenty in common, including the importance of agriculture to our respective economies.

According to a recent report by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, agricultural trade and innovation represent a strategic sector for Canada’s accelerating relationship with Brazil.

Certainly, Brazil’s emergence in the western hemispheric neighbour-hood is difficult to overstate. With an average growth of almost 3.7 percent over the last 10 years, Brazil’s economy remains one of the most dynamic in the Americas.

Having recently surpassed the United Kingdom to become the world’s sixth largest economy, Brazil is set to be the fourth largest economy by 2030.

Already, Brazil is Canada’s most important trading partner in South America. Bilateral trade between Canada and Brazil has increased over 150 percent since 2002, reaching a total of $6.7 billion in 2011.

With combined gross domestic product of more than $4 trillion, however, Canada-Brazil relations can yet be deepened and diversified.

Brazil’s record in agricultural research and development, including its commercialization capacity in agriculture through EMBRAPA (the Brazil Agricultural Research Corporation), has won international acclaim.

Canada is the world’s fourth-largest agriculture and agri-food exporter, after the European Union, the United States and Brazil.

Given their comparative strengths, Canada and Brazil are well-placed to reinforce their respective capacities through knowledge and technology-transfers, while working together to enhance the supply of food for the world.

Toward this end, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s report recommends that the government of Canada, in partnership with Brazilian counterparts, pursue a strategic partnership on global food security.

The strategy would be based on collaboration between the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Brazil’s agricultural research centres, the Canadian International Development Agency and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency.

It would involve businesses as well as people-to-people links, which are fundamental in building and maintaining a shared appreciation of our countries’ investment in our future.

By placing agriculture at the centre of its strategic approach to deepening Canada-Brazil relations, Canada can establish itself as a reliable partner in Brazil’s bilateral trade and innovation objectives, while collaborating internationally to underpin the critical role of food in international development, peace and political stability.

The resulting increases in trade and economic activity between Canadians and Brazilians at all levels stands to directly benefit working Canadians through job creation and prosperity, while paying dividends for both populations long into the future.

Our report, including detailed analysis and recommendations are available at www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/411/aefa/rep/rep05may12-e.pdf .

Andreychuk is a senator from Saskatchewan and Downe is a senator from Prince Edward Island.

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