OTTAWA, Ontario – News that the government of Canada is conducting a joint study with the government of Japan on the future of their economic relationship is welcome news to the Canadian pork industry. This study will better inform Canadian representatives what to negotiate should the decision be made to pursue a free-trade agreement.

"Pork exports from Canada to Japan have been a major success story and have been steadily increasing each year," said Jurgen Preugschas, the Canadian Pork Council's chair. "The government will have our full support to seek more liberalized bilateral trade and investment between the two countries."

"Japan is a very important and expanding market for Canadian pork," added Edouard Asnong, Canada Pork International's president. "Our first office outside of Canada was established this year in Tokyo to further strengthen the relationship with our customers and promote the high quality and attributes of Canadian pork."

The Japanese market is extremely valuable for Canadian pork industry stakeholders with sales of 225 thousand tonnes valued at $852 million dollars in 2010. This represents 20% of total Canadian pork exports by volume and 31% in value. Any initiative that could enhance Canada's and Japan's relationship and address commercial challenges is particularly welcome by Canada’s pork industry.

However, Canada’s pork industry hopes this study does not diminish the importance of resuming free-trade talks with South Korea. The Canadian pork industry remains concerned that postponing the FTA talks any further would seriously affect the competitiveness of the pork industry. The lack of progress on a FTA with South Korea is having a noticeable effect on the industry’s current market share since all of its key competitors have previously reached or have negotiated FTAs with South Korea. It is fair to assume Canada's current pork trade with South Korea would completely disappear.

If Canada is lagging behind the US and the EU in implementing the tariff reduction schedules, the negative impact on Canadian exports will carry throughout the tariff reduction period. Failure to reach an FTA with South Korea will cause substantial prejudice to the Canadian pork industry and Canada will become a second-class exporter for the next decade due to this tariff gap, CPC claims.

The Canadian Pork Council serves as the national voice for hog producers in Canada. A federation of nine provincial pork industry associations, our organization's purpose is to play a leadership role in achieving and maintaining a dynamic and prosperous Canadian pork sector. Canada Pork International is the export development agency of Canadian pork industry. It is a joint venture of the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Meat Council.