The 2021 Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) AGM committee meetings were held virtually over the third week of March. As it would be expected, COVID-19 has presented many challenges to the beef industry, but trade continues to be a strong focus of the CCA. Regardless of the barriers that COVID-19 posed, 2020 was an active year for trade negotiations:
Throughout COVID-19, the CAN-US border remained open for essential business, although trade is not the top priority for the Biden administration. The USMCA entered into force in July 2020, where mandatory Country of Origin Labelling (mCOOL) was kept out of the New NAFTA, although some mCOOL supporters are still pushing for the reinstatement. Canada is in continuous discussion with the US administration to prevent mCOOL.
CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership)
Securing further access to quickly expanding Asian markets is of key priority for the CCA. Although 2020 export volumes of beef were slightly down, product value increased. CCA is keen on the economies of the UK, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea to move forward in the accession process of the CPTPP. The ascension of new members is an opportunity to expand trade diversification and creating new export opportunities.
Indonesia is not currently a market for Canadian beef, however, is a substantial market for meat-and-bone meal sourced from Canada. CCA notes that there is opportunity to gain market share for all meat products from the meat animal into Indonesia and will further explore this. Minister Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade, launched public consultations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Indonesia which ended on February 23rd. CCA submitted its comments on a potential Canada-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). CCA shared its support to the objective of pursuing free trade with Indonesia to maximize commercial benefits and to maintain a competitive pace with competitors.
In June of 2020, China requested increased commitments from agri-food exporters around the world to ensure that their products were free of COVID-19. This created a strain on beef exports from Canada to China, specifically from the Cargill plant in High River, AB. Although food researchers have ensured that the spreadable risk of COVID-19 on food products is extremely low, Cargill High River has still not been reinstated.
Canada-UK Trade Continuity Agreement
Canada and the United Kingdom signed a Trade Continuity Agreement in December 2020, ratified on March 17, to enable the continuity of trade until a permanent trade agreement enters into force. CCA looks to ensure that the limitations of CETA will be removed from the permanent Canada-UK trade agreement.
Securing future trading relationships between Canada and Ukraine are hopeful as of February 2021 Canadian federally licensed meat establishments are no longer required to gain Ukraine approval prior to exporting.
The Canadian government is currently looking to advance the technical trade priorities of Canadian beef into the EU. The Standards Council of Canada and Market Access Secretariat (MAS) are currently working toward creating a set of verifications to further improve trade of Canadian beef into the EU.
Building on an initial proposal advanced by Canada, the US, Brazil and Argentina earlier this year, members discussed a possible Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Declaration for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference next year which would address the growing pressures on international agri-food production and trade.
Next steps for accessing markets with BSE restrictions
Canada has applied for BSE negligible risk status and pending that the OIE approves this status (during OIE general session May 2021), Canada will have opportunity to pursue full access into various beef markets that limit trade based on BSE risk status.