National cattle and meat industry organizations find themselves in a strange predicament, calling on the Canadian government to delay its approval for a trade deal.
The Canadian Cattle Association, Canadian Meat Council, and National Cattle Feeders’ Association — normally in favour of new trade agreements — launched a campaign called “Say No to A Bad Deal” on Tuesday, asking MPs to delay their approval of the United Kingdom joining the CPTPP trade agreement.
The groups say the proposed terms for bringing the UK into the Pacific trade pact do not meet the scientific standards of the CPTPP and politicize food safety decisions as the agreement fails to address the UK’s long-standing non-tariff trade barriers against Canadian meat exports.
“Beef farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality beef, with superior food safety standards and we will not lower our standards for any trade deal. The CPTPP sets a high standard for progressive trade and the deal proposed with the UK would set a dangerous precedent for future countries looking to join,” says Canadian Cattle Association (CCA) president Nathan Phinney.
Trade terms between Canada and the UK are currently based on the temporary extension of the Canada-EU trade deal, which was to serve as a stop-gap while the two countries negotiated a new trade agreement after the UK’s exit from the European Union. As a result, the UK is enjoying tariff-free access to the Canadian market while Canadian meat exports have been severely disadvantaged by the UK’s technical barriers. In 2022, for example, the UK exported 4,414 tonnes of beef to Canada worth C$33.2 million, while Canada did not export any beef to the UK, mainly due to the UK not recognizing carcass washes used at Canadian packing plants.
The CCA has said it’s been told other countries in the CPTPP have achieved unlimited beef access in their bilateral agreements with the UK, but that similar access was “off the table” for Canada.
“The world-class standards of Canada’s red meat sector have set benchmarks across the industry. Not only will this deal hurt the pockets of Canadian meat processors, and farmers, it additionally puts consumers at risk by de-prioritizing scientific-based controls and lowering the bar for international regulations,” says Chris White, president and CEO of the Canadian Meat Council.
The beef and meat industry groups say they want to see the UK’s entry into the CPTPP delayed until a bilateral deal is negotiated between Canada and the UK that would include viable market access for Canadian beef and pork.
Without meaningful access in a Canada-UK deal, the groups say the Canadian government should compensate producers and processors for damages and losses that would result.
“Trade is essential to the long-term sustainability of the beef sector and Canada needs and deserves fair and reciprocal access to the UK,” says Will Lowe, chair of the National Cattle Feeders’ Association.
Accession to the CPTPP would also give the UK access to the Canadian dairy market under the terms of the agreement.
Canada’s Trade Minister, Mary Ng, has publicly supported having the UK join the CPTPP, although legislation to ratify Canada’s support has not yet been brought forward.
MPs are returning to Ottawa, with the fall session in the House of Commons set to begin on September 18.