Canadian pork cleared for Chinese retail market

by Bryan Salvage
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PARIS, FRANCE — Canadian pork products will return to Chinese grocery store shelves now that Canada secured the first certification agreement to allow pork imports to China, based on significant negotiations recognizing O.I.E. (World Organization for Animal Health) standards.

This agreement builds on the success of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's recent mission to China and it was announced by Mr. Ritz during his agricultural trade mission to the O.I.E. and Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development on Feb. 25 in Paris.

"When our government works to open and expand markets for Canadian producers around the world we always point to the clear O.I.E. consensus that Canadian pork and beef is safe," Mr. Ritz said. "We are pleased to continue our strong and respectful working relationship with China. Access to the Chinese market is excellent news for Canadian pork producers and underlines the importance of recognizing international science-based standards."

Last spring, China banned pork imports from H1N1-affected countries. In December, Prime Minister Harper got the ban lifted on his mission to China. Since then, Canada has been working to develop supplementary certification requirements. This successful negotiation will now allow Chinese imports of Canadian pork. China is an important market for Canadian pork valued at $42 million in 2008. Discussions on the Chinese importation of Canadian live swine continue and Canada is hopeful for early resolution.

Minister Ritz also met with the O.I.E. Director General Bernard Vallat while in Paris this week and reaffirmed Canada's commitment to the O.I.E. by investing an additional $1.9 million over the next four years.

"Maximizing trade opportunities is a priority of Canada's Economic Action Plan and supporting the vital international work of the O.I.E. is part of our continued efforts to make sure our producers can compete on a level playing field," Mr. Ritz said. "This increased investment will support the important role the O.I.E. plays in determining international science-based guidelines that govern the safe movement of animals and animal products.”

One priority for this investment will be to provide Canadian expertise to support the O.I.E.'s headquarters and regional capacity building activities. The O.I.E. has played a central role in developing international consensus that recognizes Canada's effective measures to deal with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, H1N1 and avian influenza.

"The positive impact of animal-health policies not only on fair trade but also on poverty reduction and public health is in itself ample justification for financing and maintaining animal health strategies worldwide," Dr. Vallat said. "Canada has always been supportive of O.I.E.'s actions, but I would like to stress my personal thanks to the government of Canada for confirming it through this additional investment.”
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