In any case, it's a pleasure to be here and to talk about India. But talking about Asia, I'm quite sure that you'll see more of us in the next while, when you will be talking about Japan and China—in the very near future, I think—and maybe the European Union. I expect we will be back here to talk about those agreements.
Today is in regard to India. First, although I think you start to get to know who CPI is, let me say that we are the export market development agency of the Canadian pork industry. We were established in 1991. This is a joint initiative of the Canadian Pork Council and the Canadian Meat Council. It has be made clear that our organization deals primarily with market access issues, the promotion of Canadian pork abroad, providing market intelligence, and as well, working on other significant export-related issues, be it transportation or those that are of direct interest to our membership.
Although a significant portion of the population in India will not consume pork for religious or lifestyle reasons—there are about 200 million Muslims and 300 million vegetarians in India—the majority of the population is still not averse to eating pork. This leaves perhaps 600 million people—quite a few, a much bigger number than the Canadian market, that's for sure. The offer for pork products is extremely limited in Indian stores, with only a small number of specialized shops offering some.
While visiting India a few weeks ago, the Federation of Indian Food Importers indicated that three shops represent about 80% to 90% of all the pork sold in Delhi. The only government-approved slaughterhouse for pork is located in Chandigarh, which is about a three-hour drive north from Delhi—and where Canada has a consulate, by the way.
Most pork found in local stores would be slaughtered locally, sometimes in less than ideal conditions, especially if you're aware of how this is done in India. Most pigs are raised in small, backyard operations, with limited control on their food intake—which means eating whatever they can find. There is a limited selection of prepackaged pork, bacon, ham, and sausages, with similar chicken-based products offered alongside.
During our visit, the federation organized a round table with several importers and distributors of imported food products. The participants confirmed their strong interest in importing Canadian pork. CPI provided a general indication of the price for some Canadian cuts, and they confirmed that these prices were competitive. In spite of the import duty of 37% currently charged on imported pork and the VAT of 5% collected on raw meat and of 12% on processed products, they all indicated that they would be able to find markets for the Canadian products.
The participants in the meeting provided a perspective on the Delhi market. We have to be aware that in India, because of the transportation difficulties the big markets do not communicate with one another—between Mumbai and Delhi and Chennai and those places. So you have to look at very specific markets, one by one.
While some of them were confident that they could import a full container of pork, some participants, especially from smaller firms, indicated a preference for a consolidated shipment equally divided between pork, processed pork products, and seafood. So there's also an interest in seafood from the same buyers.
In recent years, we also have had the opportunity to meet the buyers of the major Indian hotel chains, such as Taj Mahal and Oberoi. Without exception, they always mention their interest in Canadian high-quality pork products. We believe that given access to the Indian market, the Canadian pork exporters could achieve good results.
We're also aware that some product has been shipped directly to India from Canada; if you take a look at the Canadian stats, what is presented as Canadian pork exports to India is real, although there are no export certificates. I never ask how it got in there, but it did and still does.
Our industry has been trying for years to gain access to India—I mean official access to India—without success, as it has been very difficult for the CFIA to get its Indian counterparts to negotiate a workable export certificate for Canadian pork products. Since the announcement that the two countries will start negotiations for a trade agreement, we sense that the Indian veterinary authorities are now more open to conducting such discussions.
In light of the above, the Canadian pork industry is requesting the Canadian negotiators to seek the following. First is a firm engagement on the part of the Indian authorities to undertake negotiations toward a resolution of the various sanitary issues within a set timeframe. As a matter of fact, we've been talking to India for over 10 years without any success.
These negotiations should include the following issues: an agreement on export conditions related to societal norms prevailing in India, which means requirements related to religious practices, such as the requirement for the absence of ruminant proteins in the feed given to pigs; the development of an export certificate for Canadian pork being shipped to India; and finally, a system-wide approval of the Canadian meat inspection system.
The final thing is tariff-free access without a quota for pork, offal, and processed meat products as classified under chapter 2 and chapter 16 of the harmonized standard codes.
Thank you very much. I'm open to all questions.