Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Meat and cars highlight Korean trade deal

Canada regains its competitive position in the South Korean beef and pork markets, but is yielding its 6.1 per cent tariff on Korean-made cars.

Hog and beef farmers are happy; unionized auto workers are not.

Jean-Guy Vincent, chairman of the Canadian Pork Council, said “the completion of a Canada-South Korean Free Trade Agreement was of critical importance for the Canadian pork sector” because the United States, Europe and Chile were taking away Canada’s market share.

Canada’s pork exports to South Korea dwindled from $223 million in 2011 to $76 million last year because the others had signed free-trade agreements that made their pork less expensive.

“Korean people recognise the quality of Canadian pork due and we look forward to rebuilding market share lost in South Korea,” said Vincent.

Based on U.S. economic analysis when its free trade agreement with South Korea took effect, Canadian hog prices might increase by as much as $10 per hog.

The South Koreans buy some of the best and highest-priced pork cuts, “significant enough to have a major impact on Canadian hog prices and jobs” on farms and in pork-packing plants, said the council.

Canadian beef farmers also praised finalization of the deal announced when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in the country.

Ontario Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne said she has a mixed reaction to the deal – supportive of the export opportunities it offers, but concerned about increased competition for the auto sector.

"We will be looking for the appropriate protections and framework around the auto sector,”Wynne said in the legislature.