The Chair of Manitoba Pork is calling on Manitoba’s political leaders to demonstrate their support for a resurrected Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

On behalf of the province’s pork industry the Chair of Manitoba Pork has sent letters to Premier Brian Pallister and Manitoba’s 14 Members of Parliament urging them to encourage the Government of Canada to actively pursue an 11 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.

George Matheson says, as the United States moves to strike individual bilateral agreements with other countries, it becomes important for Canada to keep pace in these markets.

The 11 countries that would be involved are major consumers and in the past have purchased a lot of Canadian product. Japan, being the main market, purchase probably 50 percent of our high value pork products and there are growing markets such as Vietnam and Korea and Mexico.

Probably our first choice and the Canadian government’s first choice would a multilateral as opposed to dealing with one country at a time. At the very least we want to be on the same page as the U.S. If they have trading opportunities with countries such as Japan we want, at the very least, the very same trading relationships.

We’re number three in the world as far as pork exports behind the U.S., the European Union so we’re a major player and we don’t want to slip behind. That happened to us with relations with South Korea and it’s not a good position to be in to play catch up, to try and integrate markets that have already been established by another country.

~ George Matheson, Manitoba Pork

Matheson notes 90 percent of the pork produced in Manitoba is exported and, with or without the U.S. as part of the deal, the Pacific Rim nations offer a good export opportunity and all totaled are an important market to us.

He says the prospect of a Trans-Pacific Partnership is exciting and we know the federal government is on top of it.