CCA urges deal with Japan to increase beef exports

WINNIPEG — The Canadian cattle industry needs the Trans-Pacific Partnership to gain more access to Japan, where high tariffs on imported beef prevail, say members of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

Australia already has a bilateral agreement with Japan and tariffs are coming down. It pays 31.5 percent on fresh product and 29 percent on frozen beef while Canada continues to pay 38.5 percent.

“We are already at a disadvantage every year and we will be that much further behind,” said Dan Darling, chair of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association foreign trade committee.

Canada sold $100 million worth of beef to Japan last year and if the tariff differential is not addressed, that will dwindle to nothing, said John Masswohl, CCA director of international relations, during the semi annual meeting in Winnipeg Aug. 11-14.

If a deal is made, Canada could more than double exports to Japan under the TPP. A ministerial meeting in September could complete negotiations.

Darling and Masswohl attended TPP negotiations in Hawaii at the end of July and said they were disappointed to leave without an agreement.

The CCA wants uniformly lower beef tariffs among trading partners, but disagreements over auto parts and intellectual property rights stalled talks.

“We weren’t sure what to expect going into the Maui meeting. Would it be a finishing meeting, would it all collapse or would we get close and need another one,” said Masswohl.

“Canada did make offers in all areas. There was finger pointing at Canada about certain sectors but offers were made in every category,” he said.

“We don’t know what parts of the puzzle pieces were accepted and what wasn’t,” added Darling.

Masswohl said the talks centre on agreements between the U.S. and Japan.

“Everybody is waiting to hear the details of what the United States and Japan can agree to and will those details apply to everyone else,” said Masswohl.

The beef sector is also watching the progress of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Europe.

When that deal was announced, it looked like good news for the beef sector but there are outstanding technical issues that were supposed to be resolved by now.

If items including food safety practices in packing plants cannot be agreed, Canada will struggle to get beef into Europe.

“If we do not have genuine access, what is the point of the agreement?” said Masswohl.

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