Canada reaches trade agreement with Hong Kong

by Bryan Salvage
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Canada reaches trade agreements with India, Hong Kong

HONG KONG – As the result of a recent trade mission, Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz secured an agreement in-principle with Hong Kong to immediately expand key export opportunities for Canadian beef. It also includes a clear timetable to open that market to all Canadian beef exports. This announcement was made after Minister Ritz met with Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health, Dr. York Chow.

Mr. Ritz also announced the first comprehensive agricultural Memorandum of Understanding between Canada and India, which was signed Jan. 13, 2009.

Minister Ritz and Secretary Chow agreed to a staged process that immediately expands opportunities for key Canadian beef exports, according to the Canadian government. After Canadian beef exporters meet Hong Kong's requirements, all commercially-significant Canadian beef exports will have access to the Hong Kong market.

According to the agreement, the first stage of the process gives Canadian beef producers access to the Hong Kong market for rib cuts and most bone-in beef products (excluding vertebral column cuts) from cattle under 30 months of age. After meeting Hong Kong's requirements during the first four-month phase-in period, Hong Kong will allow Canadian exports of rib cuts, boneless beef and offal from all Canadian cattle.

Hong Kong will open its borders to all remaining Canadian beef exports from cattle under 30 months of age, including T-bones and porterhouse steaks, if Hong Kong's remaining requirements are met by the end of this calendar year.

The Canada Beef Export Federation estimates that the improved access could mean an increase in Canadian beef exports to Hong Kong by as much as $26 million, almost doubling our current exports.

Mr. Ritz also signed Canada's first agricultural Memorandum of Understanding with India to create a framework to expand agricultural trade between the two countries. Canadian agricultural exports to India are currently worth $445 million. Mr. Ritz secured an agreement with Indian Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to safeguard and expand Canadian pulse crop exports to India that are currently worth $342 million.

According to this agreement, India agreed to extend temporary measures to allow port-of-arrival fumigation of Canadian pulses for six months and committed to a further six-month extension if necessary. The Ministers also agreed to establish a joint Indian-Canadian working group to develop a permanent resolution to this issue over the coming year.

Mr. Ritz also discussed live swine, pork and bovine embryos during his meeting with Minister Pawar, who also agreed to work toward opening access for Canadian pork.

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