Food trade expansion ‘ambitious’

The federal government has published a market access report that describes 2012 as a year of significant advances for Canadian food exports.

It highlighted 10 key markets, including China, Taiwan and the European Union, in which market access improved in the past year, whether through regulatory changes or legislative changes.

Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz and trade minister Ed Fast released the report in Ottawa Nov. 8.

Ritz said agriculture’s advance was part of “the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history.”

A key improvement in 2011 exports was an increase in canola sales to the European Union for its biofuel industry. The value of canola seed exports increased from $59 million to $200 million during the year and crude canola oil for use in biodiesel production increased from $24 million to $221 million.

“We are working hard to open new export markets in the world’s emerging major economies while continuing to strengthen and expand existing trade relationships,” said Ritz.

“More exports mean more jobs for Canadians and sustainable long-term growth for Canada.”

Export-oriented agricultural sectors quickly applauded the government for its trade promotion efforts.

“Many of the major access gains highlighted in this report have required years of hard work to come to fruition,” said Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Martin Unrau, who noted that the year’s successes included increased beef access to South Korea and a successful challenge of U.S. country-of-origin-labelling rules at the World Trade Organization.

“The results speak for themselves,” Unrau said. “The Canadian cattle industry has true champions in ministers Ritz and Fast.”

Canola Council of Canada president Patti Miller said government trade efforts help all of the canola industry, which exports 85 percent of its production.

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