OTTAWA, Ontario -- Canada’s federal government is again being urged by the Canadian pork industry to immediately resume free-trade negotiations with the Republic of Korea. Pork producers and exporters pointed out during meetings with interested Parliamentarians their concerns, which led to suspension of negotiations in 2008 have been resolved or addressed in the Korea-US Free-Trade Agreement.

"The negotiations with Korea have been stalled since 2008," said Edouard Asnong, chairman of Canada Pork International. "Canada is the second-largest exporter of pork to South Korea and expects to ship $300 million [US$295 million] of pork products mostly from Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta."

Canada’s pork industry is particularly concerned that competitors like Chile and the EU, which already have an FTA with South Korea, enjoy preferential access and that it will completely push Canadian pork out of a key market. Meanwhile, US exporters are already benefitting from anticipation of rapid removal of high tariffs under the Korea-US Free-Trade Agreement (KORUS), which only requires ratification by the South Korean parliament.

During the next two years, the Canadian industry risks losing the existing $300 million (US$295 million) in exports and the additional hundreds of millions that could be secured if existing tariffs, which range up to 25 percent, were eliminated on the same basis as for the US, producers and exporters charged. The Standing Committee on International Trade in its 2008 Study of the Canada-Korea Free-Trade Negotiations did not recommend the negotiations be abandoned; they outlined objectives to resolve concerns in continuing negotiations.

"By 2016, the US will have no duty on chilled and frozen pork while we will pay 22.5 percent and 25.0 percent, respectively,” said Richard Davies of Olymel. “Even though the full reductions will not occur immediately, they will cumulate quickly. With this disadvantage our Korean business will be gone within two years."

"Negotiations with Korea must be resumed,” added Barry Sutton, vice president of Maple Leaf Foods. “The pork export sector was not pleased with the Korean offers in 2007. Nor were our US counterparts and they continued their negotiations until US pork received a better deal. We are here asking the Government of Canada to stand up for our interests in the South Korea market."

It is unfortunate that no meetings or negotiations have taken place for the past three years, said Jurgen Preugschas, chairman of the Canadian Pork Council. "Canada needs access to Korea and its disappointing that after 13 negotiating sessions, virtually all of them generating positive signals, the discussion stopped," he concluded.