U.K. unjustly blocks Canadian beef and pork, they say.
Ottawa-Canadian cattle and hog producers want the federal government to withhold acceptance of the U.K.’s entry into the Pacific free trade deal until Britain stops blocking imports of their products on unsubstantiated grounds.
Their reaction came after International Trade Minister Mary Ng said the government has reached a market access agreement that would allow the U.K. into the trade pact.
Nathan Phinney, President of the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA), said his organization was told the U.K. will not provide Canada with similar access for beef and pork shipments that British products have with Canada.
“There is also no current progress being made to address the main obstacle to the U.K. market – the full acceptance of Canada’s meat hygiene system which is widely recognized as one of the finest in the world,” he said.
Rene Roy, Chair of the Canadian Pork Council, said Canada’s acceptance of the U.K.’s position “is a further indication our negotiators tie one hand behind their backs as they pursue rules-based trade. Rules-based free trade requires both sides agree to follow the rules, and in this case, the U.K. is not, and has no intention of doing so. The U.K. needed this deal more than we did, and yet we gave more than we needed to allow them access to a global market.”
The agreement still needs Parliamentary approval and the two groups say they will lobby opposition MPs to oppose it if there are no changes.
Roy said the deal was especially galling because the U.K. “has made deliberate misleading statements about the use of growth hormones in Canadian pork. Our food inspection and safety system is second to none, and in fact, is superior to the U.K.’s. The government must defend its system more aggressively to keep falsehoods from being repeated by our trading partners.”
Phinney said CCA has learned that other countries in the Pacific trade deal have achieved unlimited beef access in their bilateral agreements with the U.K.
In 2021, the U.K. exported 2,733 tonnes of beef valued at $16.3 million to Canada and 4,414 tonnes worth $33.2 million in 2022. By contrast, Canada exported 657 tonnes of beef valued at C$7.6 million to the U.K. in 2021 and zero in 2022.
To date, CCA has supported negotiations with the U.K. to rectify the lop-sided benefits that British beef producers enjoy under the pre-existing agreement to ensure true reciprocity and access to each other’s markets to create a win-win for both industries and consumers across both markets.
Jason Kung, spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada, said that it was good news for Canada to have the U.K. join the Pacific trade deal including for the agriculture and agrifood sector. The government will continue to engage with the U.K. to obtain equivalency in our systems approach to beef and pork exporters.
Phinney said the deal with the U.K. that leaves a significant barrier in place and does not meet the standards of the Pacific trade deal. It should be rejected until it can do better to meet the deal’s progressive trade principles.