Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to talk to the Canada–Korea free trade agreement, or CKFTA, specifically the benefits and opportunities created by the agreement for the Canadian beef and pork farmers.
Canadian beef and pork are world renowned and a significant contributor to our national economy. In every region of our country, hard-working beef and pork producers produce reliable and high-quality products that are constantly in high demand. The size of the industry is staggering. By 2014, there were 12.2 million head of cattle on over 82,000 Canadian farms and ranches. In the pork sector, there are approximately 12.9 million hogs on over 7,000 farms.
Our government, along with Canadian beef and pork producers, understands that Canada's prosperity requires expansion beyond our borders into new markets for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's exports and investments.
While the United States is a major export market for Canadian beef and pork, diversification and ensuring that Canadian farmers have access to a wide range of export markets for their products is key to their success. That is why our most recent Speech from the Throne committed to expanding trade in the Asia-Pacific region to benefit hard-working Canadians and businesses, especially to our crucial small and medium-sized enterprises and industries across Canada.
South Korea represents a significant market for beef and pork, and there exists much potential for increased Canadian exports. Between 2010 and 2012, South Korea's global imports totalled an average of approximately $1.3 billion annually, while global pork imports were worth an average of approximately $1.1 billion annually. Currently, Canada supplies only a fraction of South Korea's beef and pork markets. Canada's market share is also currently falling due to the competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis the United States and the European Union that benefit from lower tariffs and preferential access due to the FTA they presently have with South Korea.
Specifically, following the implementation of the Korea-U.S. or Korea-EU FTAs, Canada's share of South Korean fresh, chilled and frozen pork imports dropped from 14.2% in 2010 to 8.9% in 2013, representing a loss of export value in excess of $22 million. During the same period, U.S. and EU market share increased from 66% to 76%.
In 2012, following the resumption of Canada's access to South Korea's beef market, Canada's fresh and chilled beef exports to South Korea were valued at around $10 million. However, in 2013, Canadian beef exports declined to $6.7 million as a result of a growing tariff differential, again vis-à-vis U.S. competition.
Our Conservative government is committed to levelling the playing field and opening new markets for high-quality Canadian beef and pork as Canada's first free trade agreement in Asia. The Canada-Korea free trade agreement provides critical new market-access opportunities in a dynamic region where there is significant demand for both beef and pork.
Starting with beef, exports to South Korea of fresh, chilled and frozen beef, which totalled over $43 million in 2002 prior to the BSE outbreak, are in the rebuilding phase following the restoration of access to the South Korean market in 2012. Canada's exports of beef to South Korea reached an average of $5.5 million from 2011 to 2013, while exports of bovine genetics, offal and tallow averaged at over $15 million.
Importantly, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement would eliminate high tariffs that serve as a barrier for increased Canadian exports. Specifically, the 40% tariff on fresh, chilled and frozen beef cuts, as well as the 72% tariff on some processed and prepared beef, will be eliminated within 15 years. Tariffs of 18% on most beef offal will be eliminated within 11 years, while tariffs on beef fats and tallow will be eliminated upon entry into force of the free trade agreement. In addition, the 18% tariff on embryos will be eliminated upon entry into force.
Beef stakeholders from across the country have unanimously and publicly supported this agreement. These include the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Canadian Meat Council, Manitoba Beef Producers, British Columbia Cattlemen's Association, Alberta Beef Producers, Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association and Beef Farmers of Ontario. Martin Unrau, past president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, said, “This announcement means Canadian beef will be able to compete for meaningful access in the South Korean market”.
Canada's export of fresh, chilled and frozen pork to South Korea reached an average of $138 million from 2011 to 2013, while exports of processed pork, pork offal and fats reached $9 million during the same period. Although Canadian pork farmers are already exporting to South Korea, high tariffs remain for many of the pork products they produce. Thus, there is remaining significant untapped potential for this industry to export to South Korea, potential that can only be accessed through a tariff elimination pursuant to the Canada–Korea free trade agreement.
Under the agreement, the 22.5% and 25% tariffs on fresh, chilled and frozen pork guts will be eliminated within five to thirteen years. The 18% to 30% tariffs on most processed and prepared pork will be eliminated within six years. As well, the 18% tariff on pork offal will be eliminated within five years, while the 3% tariff on pig fats and oils will be eliminated upon entry into force of the Canada–Korea free trade agreement.
In addition to the industry associations mentioned above, key pork stakeholders across the country have publicly voiced their support for the agreement, including the Canadian Pork Council, Canada Pork International, Éleveurs de porcs du Québec, Alberta Pork, Maple Leaf Foods, Olymel, HyLife Foods, and the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance.
This agreement also recognizes the integrated nature of this industry in the North American economy. It provides the rules of origin that would allow these world-class products to benefit from preferential treatment in South Korea. This is important as it allows Canada to continue to compete with other exporters of beef and pork to South Korea, including the United States and European Union, competitors that have benefited from lower tariffs since the implementation of their own respective free trade agreements with South Korea.
Take what Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, said, “This agreement is a major win for Canada's agri-food industry”.
Shamefully, despite all the evidence that trade creates jobs, economic growth, and economic security for hard-working Canadian families, the NDP, together with its activist-group allies, is always ideologically opposed to trade. Just as bad are the Liberals, who during their 13 years in power completely neglected trade. The Liberals took Canada virtually out of the game in trade negotiations, putting Canadian workers and businesses at severe risk of falling behind in the era of global markets.
In these uncertain times our prosperity depends on our ability to take advantage of economic opportunities in emerging markets. Not only would the Canada-Korea free trade agreement provide robust outcomes for Canadian beef and pork farmers, but it would allow Canada to level the playing field with key competitors and reverse the decline in beef and pork exports to South Korea.
Our government understands the importance of trade to our economy. It represents one out of every five jobs in Canada and accounts for more than 60% of our country's annual income.
Any delay in ratifying this agreement would place Canadian farmers at a further disadvantage against their competitors, and Canadian jobs and opportunities. As Australia is nearing the implementation of its own FTA with South Korea, there is even a greater urgency for Canada to implement the Canada-Korea free trade agreement and gain preferential access as soon as possible so as to establish an even stronger foothold in this most important export market.
In order to support Canadian farmers and expand their export opportunities, the Canada-Korea free trade agreement needs to be passed now. This would create jobs and opportunities and contribute significantly to Canada's long-term economic growth and prosperity.