The U.K. received the okay from Canada to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on Saturday and typically pro-trade industry groups are voicing their deep disappointment in Canada’s decision to allow it.
The Canadian Meat Council (CMC), Canadian Cattle Association (CCA), and the CanadianPork Council (CPC) released a joint statement following the news saying, “The CPTPP has, until now, provided a high standard for trade liberalization, but this agreement with the U.K. leaves a significant barrier in place. It does not meet this standard of open trade, and will undermine ambition with future entrants.”
Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, said she welcomes the addition of Canada’s third-largest trading partner to the CPTPP, saying, “The U.K. shares Canada’s dedication to open, predictable and inclusive rules-based trade. We look forward to working with the United Kingdom and the other CPTPP members to continue to advance this high-standard agreement for the benefit of all our people and workers.”
The beef and pork sectors, however, are asking that MPs reject the ascension of the U.K. into the partnership when the decision is put to the House, likely later this year.
The red meat sectors say that under the current system, there is “no viable market access for beef and pork” to the U.K., so the sector is calling on the government to ensure the Canadian/United Kingdom bilateral agreement currently being negotiated will guarantee fair access.
“Failing that, we are asking Parliament to ensure producers and processors for both products are fairly compensated for the damages and losses that will result,” the groups say in the joint release.
At issue is the U.K.’s unwillingness to accept Canada’s meat inspection system and food safety and animal health systems and measures as equivalent, which has become a non-tariff barrier for access to the U.K. market.
British beef and pork have enjoyed full access to the Canadian market without full reciprocity, the groups say, resulting in more than 7,000 tonnes of beef valued at almost $40 million to Canada in the last two years. In contrast, Canada exported 657 tonnes of beef valued at $7.6 million to the UK in 2021 and zero in 2022. The U.K. shipped 1,300 tonnes of pork valued at $10 million in 2022 the same year Canada shipped zero pork to the UK.