OTTAWA, Ontario – Qatar and Honduras have opened their borders to Canadian beef and livestock.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast announced that Qatar has approved all beef imports from Canada, while Honduras lifted restrictions against live cattle from Canada in place since 2003 due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Industry estimates estimate the potential Qatari market for Canadian beef and veal could reach $2 million annually.

"Not only does Qatar have one of the highest per-capita incomes in the world, Qatar imports more than 90 percent of its food requirements," said Henry Mizrahi, Canadian Meat Council president. "The Canadian meat industry appreciates and welcomes the successful negotiation of full beef access to the Qatari market."

Livestock producers are seeing benefits from the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement, which recently came into force.

"Market access coupled with strategic investments are essential for the economic stability and profitability of Canadian cattle producers," Michael Latimer, executive director of the Canadian Beef Breeds Council and Michael Hall, executive director, Canadian Livestock Genetics Association said in a joint statement. "Access to the Honduran market for live cattle provides an excellent framework for our members to build strong business relationships in that market and an additional avenue to demonstrate the safety and superior quality of Canadian cattle genetics to the world."

In 2013, Canada exported agricultural goods (excluding seafood) valued at $88 million. That same year, Canada exported beef to 70 markets for a total value of $1.3 billion.