The president of Canada Pork International warns the lack of a Canada-South Korea free trade agreement threatens to cost Canada a pork export market worth over 100 million dollars a year.
While free trade negotiations between Canada and the Republic of Korea have been stalled since 2008 Canada’s major competitors in the pork industry, including the United States, the European Union and Chile, have negotiated their own free trade agreements with South Korea.
Representatives of the Canadian pork industry have asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to become directly involved in getting free trade discussions back on track.
Canada pork International president Jacques Pomerleau says Canada’s trading partners in South Korea have warned, without a free trade agreement, Canada will be out of that market within two years.
We have to remember that Korea is a very price sensitive market and the fact that there’s no plan for Canada to have a free trade agreement.
The Korean buyers are looking at those that do have those agreements in place or are about to be ratified like the EU, like the United States and Chile.
What they are telling us is that unless we have a commitment from you guys to be in the market for the long term we don’t see why we should develop a long term relationship.
The consequences are that if the other countries have a free trade agreement they will have the ability to reduce their tariffs over the years and ours would remain at where they are right now and I could tell you that a difference of two or three percent on that market in tariffs will mean that we’ll be excluded from that market in a year or two from now.
Pomerleau notes in the past few years South Korea has been among Canada’s top five markets for pork and, in 2010 Canada exported about 100 million dollars worth of product to that market, down from 125 million the previous couple of years.