OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Colombia announced Sept. 16 it will allow importing Canadian beef from animals of all ages, which makes it the first market in South America to reopen to Canadian beef since 2003. Stockwell Day, Canada’s Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, welcomed the news.

"Our government has raised the beef importation issue repeatedly with Colombia," Minister Day said. "(This) announcement demonstrates that our efforts have paid off. Colombia’s decision will open the doors to Canadian beef exports. This is great news for Canadian beef producers."

Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, has also been seeking access to the Colombian market for Canadian beef through meetings with their ministerial counterparts and through other forums. "I was in Colombia last May to promote our safe, high-quality products, and it is good to see that the mission contributed to a successful outcome for Canadian beef producers," he said.

Once valid certificates are agreed to with the Colombian government, Canadian beef exports will resume. The Canadian government said it would continue working with Colombia to ensure resumption in cattle trade.

A free-trade agreement was recently signed by Canada and Colombia. Once implemented, the F.T.A. will provide duty-free access for a wide range of Canadian goods and services. Implementing legislation was introduced in the House of Commons in March 2009 and is currently being reviewed by members of Parliament.

Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Colombia in 2008 totaled more than C$1.3 billion.