Evidence of meeting #34 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 japan.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

I want to call the meeting to order.

We have a bit of an abbreviated meeting today, in a sense, and we have some of our guests who are here a little bit early, which is a good thing. With us we have the Canadian Pork Council and Canadian Pork International, with Jacques Pomerleau and Mr. Vincent.

Thank you for being here and for being here a little bit early.

John Masswohl is on his way. He is scheduled at 12 o'clock. We'll probably start with the presentations and then move into that.

Prior to that, while we have a little bit of time, we just want to get straight the title of what we're studying. The title of what we're studying should be “A comprehensive, high-level economic partnership agreement with Japan”. We would ask for unanimous consent to make that change on the title so we get it right. It's sensitive in some quarters, and we just want to make sure we're accurate on it.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Could you run by us what you were asking for? What's the title?

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

It's that we change the title to “A comprehensive, high-level economic partnership agreement with Japan” instead of “The Canada-Japan bilateral trade agreement”.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

I just have a quick point on that. My understanding is that the Japanese prefer that language.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Yes.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

It doesn't really matter to us.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

It doesn't really make a big difference to us.

Do we have unanimous consent to that?

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Okay. That's carried.

Now we'll move on to the testimony. We would like to start with the Canadian Pork Council. Mr. Vincent, the floor is yours, sir.

Just one second, please.

Mr. Easter.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Chair, in terms of witness time, do we have any idea of how long we're going to be meeting? We're wondering about putting a number of witnesses forward.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

I've asked.... I think maybe you were out of the room at the last meeting. We wanted.... Put your witnesses forward. We're not going to try to restrict any witnesses. If you have witnesses you want to hear from on this, this is fairly comprehensive.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

You're not? That's quite a change.

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

No, this is actually.... It's very important we hear as many as...and that we have a comprehensive look at this agreement and this study we're doing. So put your witnesses forward. We have no intent to curtail anyone. We'll add the time that is necessary in order to be able to hear the witnesses.

The floor is yours, sir.

11:40 a.m.

Jean-Guy Vincent Chair of the Board of Directors, Canadian Pork Council

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good morning. I have been working as a hog producer for 40 years in Sainte-Séraphine, in the riding of Richmond—Arthabaska, and I am the chair of the Canadian Pork Council's board of directors. I therefore know the pork production industry very well.

I would first like to thank the members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade for the invitation to appear before you this afternoon to discuss the Canada-Japan bilateral trade agreement.

The Canadian Pork Council serves as the national voice for hog producers in Canada. We are a federation of nine provincial pork industry associations and our purpose is to play a leadership role in achieving and maintaining a dynamic and prosperous Canadian pork sector.

Canadian producers recognize the importance of trade and welcome the Canadian government's efforts to expand economic ties with Japan through a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

Pork exports from Canada to Japan have been a major success story and this has led to a strong trade relationship that has benefited both countries. The Canadian pork sector has a long history of trade with Japan that goes back more than 40 years since the first shipment of pork left Canada for Japanese customers.

Canada is currently Japan's second largest supplier of pork after the United States and we believe there is still room to grow our sales. A trade liberalization agreement between our two nations will provide a big boost for our industry.

Our major competitors are eyeing the deal with envy and will be seeking their own deals to access this market. Unlike the Korean Free Trade Agreement, we cannot take our hand off the throttle. Any hesitation or delay will allow other countries to initiate their own trade deals with Japan and pass Canada in finalizing their agreements.

The Japanese market is very demanding on the safety of products and requires a high level of food safety from importers.

These requirements have enabled the Canadian pork industry to develop high-quality food safety programs, such as the Canadian quality assurance program. These programs have assisted the industry in accessing Japan and other international pork markets. The Japanese influence on the Canadian industry has led us to be better producers and better exporters.

I must take a moment and point out that the Japanese market, with or without a free trade agreement, will not be a substitute for the lost Korean market or other gains from Canada's entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the European Union. Every market we currently ship to has a different preference for pork.

I want to be clear, we fully support the government's trade agenda and recognize the work Minister Rizt, Minister Fast and his predecessors have done to improve market access for pork and other agriculture products. However, we need to finalize the free trade agreement with South Korea before we completely lose our market share in Korea while pursuing the free trade agreement with Japan. Completing these two free trade agreements will have an immediate and significant impact on the Canadian pork sector.

Increased market access allows our industry to market different parts of the animal for the best price. This makes us more competitive. This also results in a stronger and more flexible industry, where all parts of the value chain can have a return on their investment.

You are most likely aware that the hog sector in Canada has had its fair share of financial difficulties over the past number of years. Therefore, and I repeat, we must first and foremost maintain our market share in various countries and, second, develop new markets so that our industry can remain dynamic, and Canadian agriculture prosperous.

Thank you.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much for that testimony.

I forgot to tell the committee what we did with our first two witnesses. Our first two witnesses, the Forest Products Association of Canada and the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, will be rescheduled for next Thursday. It was the votes that bumped them. It's unfortunate, but they're from Ottawa, so it won't be too much of an inconvenience.

Mr. Pomerleau, the floor is yours.