Evidence of meeting #28 for International Trade in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was jordan.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Nancy A. Donaldson  Director, Washington Office, International Labor Organization
  • Patricia Chapdelaine  Executive Vice-President, Operations and Technical Designs, Nygård International
  • John Masswohl  Director, Government and International Relations, Canadian Cattlemen's Association
  • David I. Hudson  Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International
  • Sharon Clarke  Director, Communications and Public Relations, Nygård International

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much, Mr. Hudson.

11:35 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

I don't think it came over very clearly.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much for that answer. I have to move on to other questioners. Time has evaporated on this answer.

We'll go to Mr. Easter. He may have follow-up questions.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to all of the witnesses for being here in one fashion or another.

I'll turn to John first.

The Canada-Jordan agreement seems to be fine from the agriculture industry perspective. It's not much of a market for agriculture, from what I understand, but it does provide a template for Saudi Arabia and others.

Specifically, what does the Jordan market mean for the beef industry, beyond being a template? What do we export there? You mentioned three tariffs levels coming down, which is great. I didn't realize there was 10% on genetics.

Go ahead.

11:40 a.m.

Director, Government and International Relations, Canadian Cattlemen's Association

John Masswohl

Yes, it's a small country and it's a fairly small population, but if you look at their food production domestically, you'll see that they have less than 50% self-sufficiency in food. They import more than half of their food.

It's an arid country. It's a desert country. I believe that somewhere around 7% of their land base is arable land, so what they're going to produce on that land is largely going to be fruits and vegetables. They have some dairy production. They have sheep and goats.

They have almost no beef production to speak of, other than old dairy cows, and that really comes from their land base. As you know, beef cattle take a lot of land, they take a lot of grass, and they take a lot of water. Those are some resources that they don't have, so certainly in that region we see an opportunity.

On the genetics side in particular, if you look at their livestock industry and how it's evolved over the last 30 years, say, you'll see that they have significantly increased their dairy herd. There are some indigenous breeds in the Middle East that can tolerate the hot weather pretty well, but they don't produce a lot of milk.

I would say that over the last 30 years or so their dairy herd has increased about tenfold—that's about 50,000 cows—but they've also really moved into the Holstein-Friesian breeds, and they really need to purchase those genetics, probably in terms of small heifers, young heifers. There are certainly some opportunities there for Canadian producers.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Do you have any idea of the gross value of our exports in beef and beef products at the moment?

11:40 a.m.

Director, Government and International Relations, Canadian Cattlemen's Association

John Masswohl

Yes. The beef side has been very small. We were shut out until February of 2009. The BSE restrictions were lifted in 2009.

That said, the trade statistics show that we exported I believe about $21,000 worth in 2007. That's small. It could even be a statistical error, being that small. Then there was nothing in 2008 and nothing in 2009 or 2010. I believe there were a few half-carcasses that went in 2011, less than $10,000 worth, so it's very, very small.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Part of the reason I ask is that it's good to open up a market, but the second point you raised was the Korean market. One of the problems I have with this government—and the members opposite have heard me say it before—is that on many of these trade agreements they love to talk numbers and say, well, we have seven agreements now, and now we have nine.... But what really matters is the result, and I maintain the government has been asleep at the switch in terms of some of our traditional markets, both the United States and Canada-Korea.

When he was here on Tuesday, I asked the minister a question on the Korean agreement and us being displaced there, and he failed to answer. So I think it's important that you tell the committee how important it is.

As I understand it, between beef and pork, the Korean market is about a billion dollars. Starting today, we become less and less competitive as time goes on. Just what will that mean to the beef and hog industry over the long term if the government doesn't get off its butt, get in there, and get an agreement that stabilizes us and puts us on a par with the U.S.?

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder London West, ON

On a point of order, Chair, what's the relevance to Jordan?

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Yes, we are talking about the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, although the testimony of the witness did bring up the Korean agreement. I'll allow a short answer.

11:45 a.m.

Director, Government and International Relations, Canadian Cattlemen's Association

John Masswohl

We certainly have prioritized. We've worked very closely with Minister Ritz to make sure that he's aware of the priorities, as well as Minister Fast. We've been quite pleased with the work they've been doing in those marketplaces.

We've spent a lot of time over the last couple of years on getting the Korean market reopened. The government put a lot of effort into prosecuting that WTO case for us, and we did achieve that market opening. I guess we would very much like to see the next step, which is to finalize the free trade negotiations. They're well advanced. It shouldn't take too many meetings to finish that off.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Hiebert.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'll be splitting my time with Mr. Shipley.

I'd like to start my questioning with Mr. Hudson and Dubai.

Mr. Hudson, I'm sure you're familiar with the articles that came out in 2010 relating to alleged abuses in IBG factories. Can you confirm that you are familiar with those accusations?

11:45 a.m.

Representative, Chairman, Indo-British Garments, Nygård International

David I. Hudson

Yes, I can confirm that. I'm very much aware of them. Should I make a comment on that?

March 15th, 2012 / 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

You can comment in just a moment, perhaps. To judge by the information we've been provided, it appears that all your improvements were made as a result of the national labour committee's report, media interest in the story, and an emergency delegation from the United Steelworkers. The conclusion is that things have improved substantially. To what degree was that the impetus for this. Is it true? Is it correct that things were bad until they got put under a microscope?