Nations More Open to Bilateral Trade Agreements

CANADA - Canada's Agriculture Minister says, in the absence of progress in multilateral trade discussions at the World Trade Organization, nations have become much more receptive to securing bilateral trade agreements, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 18 October 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

On Friday federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz spoke to reporters from Niigata, Japan where he was on hand for the first-ever Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agricultural Meeting.

The trip to Japan followed trade missions to Indonesia and Hong Kong and allowed the minister to hold bilateral meetings with agricultural leaders from China, Mexico, and South Korea as well as his Japanese counterpart and Japanese industry leaders.

Minister Ritz says if Canadian farmers have a level playing field they can compete and succeed.

Gerry Ritz-Canada Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

There's a bit of a vacuum at the multilateral trade level right now as you well know.

As countries struggle with food security and sustainability the smart ones, I'll say it, are looking and reaching our for trade.

I think the recession that we've all just come through have proven that no one is an island, that we're all affected globally so we're looking for allegiances and alliances.

It's very much easier to talk trade right now than it was say even a year ago.

I think there's a growing demand for safe secure foodstuffs and of course we in Canada are blessed with riches that way.

In Indonesia Ritz received assurances that Canada's system which ensures plants such as wheat and potatoes destined for food are safe will be fully recognized and Canada and Indonesia signed an agreement to improve agriculture cooperation and focus on removing trade barriers.

In Hong Kong the Minister followed up Canada's recovery of full market access for Canadian beef last December and reported Canada's beef exports to Hong Kong have significantly exceeded expectations.

Minister Ritz says by promoting innovation, like biotechnology, Canada is looking forward to a future with stronger trade partnerships, a more sustainable environment and more profitable farmers, making sure families around the world continue to have access to top quality food.

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