OTTAWA, ONTARIO — Colombia’s announcement it has reopened its market to allow Canadian cattle imports was welcomed by Peter Van Loan, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, and Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board. This announcement follows Colombia’s recent decision to reopen its market to Canadian beef.

As a result, Colombia is the first country in South America to reopen its market to Canadian cattle since 2003. Effective immediately, Canadian exporters are eligible to export to Colombia all cattle born after Aug. 1, 2007.

“This is great news for our cattle industry, as we continue to work to ensure full access to important markets across the Americas,” said Mr. Van Loan.

“Improving access to international markets is extremely important for adding value to Canadian cattle,” said Travis Toews, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “We appreciate the tireless efforts of the government of Canada to promote Canadian cattle and eliminate barriers.”

In January, Mr. Ritz announced Canada had successfully completed the process to reopen the Colombian market to Canadian beef. The Colombian market for Canadian beef exports is worth about $6 million, according to estimates by the Canada Beef Export Federation. The process began in the spring of 2009 when Minister Ritz traveled to Colombia and secured a process to demonstrate the safety of Canadian beef.

In March, Mr. Van Loan tabled legislation to implement the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. With the implementation of this agreement, key Canadian exports that will benefit from immediate duty-free access to Colombia include live cattle, wheat, barley, lentils, peas, selected beef cuts, as well as a variety of paper products, machinery and equipment.

Canada and Colombia already enjoy a good trade relationship, with two-way merchandise trade totaling $1.3 billion in 2009.