Madam Speaker, I thank the members for their hard work in moving this vital legislation forward.
The Canadian agriculture sector contributes over $100 billion to Canada's gross domestic product. It generates over $60 billion in exports, and creates one in eight jobs.
Canada’s food processors employ more Canadians than any other manufacturing industry in the country.
When it comes to Canada’s trade in agriculture and food, I would like to focus on three key areas: the importance of trade to the sector; export opportunities; and investing to grow markets.
Canadian farmers and food processors depend on trade. About half of the value of agricultural production in Canada is exported. This includes two-thirds of pork, 80% of canola, and 74% of wheat.
Canada is the world’s top exporter of canola, flax, pulse crops, and wild blueberries. It is also a top-three exporter of wheat and pork.
Last year, Canada’s agriculture and food trade hit a new record of over $60 billion.
Trade helps secure jobs, growth, and opportunities for Canadians and more great food choices for consumers around the world. Trade is a priority for our government, which continues to work hard to open new markets for our farmers and food processors.
The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food recently returned from a trade mission to China, along with one hundred industry and government leaders. They were there to promote Canada’s world-class agricultural products and food. China is Canada’s second-largest market for agriculture and food products, valued at over $6 billion.
Just before the visit, we had tremendous news when the Prime Minister announced an agreement with China to expand market access to frozen bone-in beef from animals less than 30 months of age, ensure stable and predictable Canadian exports of canola to China on an uninterrupted basis through early 2020, and support trade in Canadian pork, bovine genetics, and processed foods.
Canada and China have set a goal of doubling trade between the two countries by 2025. All of this is great news for Canadian agriculture and great news for Canada. It is the result of a lot of hard work at all levels, by the Prime Minister, by our officials, and by industry. The mission focused on the growing trade in e-commerce, which is a powerful tool for Canadian industry to expand markets in China and build the Canada brand.
Canada renewed our strategic agreement with JD.com, one of the major platforms for food sales in China. We will keep building the Canada-China relationship. We are also reaching out to other key markets in Asia.
Asia is an important market for Canadian agriculture and food products, and especially for consumption of animal protein. With over half of the world’s population, these are large economies where incomes, urbanization, consumption, and population are all on the rise. Last year, Canadian agrifood exports to Asia were worth almost $17 billion, close to a third of our total exports.
Building on our success in China, we have re-established access for Canadian beef in South Korea, Taiwan, and Mexico. We obtained new access for Canadian pork in India and restored access in Russia and Ukraine.
We are also working closely with Argentina to complete the final steps to regain access for our pork products, as the Prime Minister announced in the fall.
We will work unstintingly to ratify the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union, to diversify trade opportunities and export destinations. The economic agreement will create new markets for our high quality Canadian agri-food products.
While we support the economic agreement, I can assure you that we understand the situation of Canadian dairy producers who will be facing heightened competition for cheese on the Canadian market. As the father of a young dairy producer, I can assure you that I am very sensitive to that issue. Our government will always stand up for supply management and our milk producers. In fact, that is why the minister and I have announced a $350 million investment to help Canadian dairy producers and processors invest in innovation and make sure the industry stays competitive.
Our government supports supply management. We have taken steps to address concerns around import predictability and the effectiveness of border controls for supply-managed commodities, while at the same time making sure that Canadian processors who use dairy and poultry inputs stay competitive on export markets.
The first thing we need, in order to develop new markets, is a world-class product. We also need investments and resources. That is where we have played a role, opening doors for our agri-food product exporters.
The money we have invested will enable a whole range of industries to capture new global markets, whether for blueberries or for bovine genetics.
In addition to investments, we are allocating key resources to trade. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s market access secretariat is working with the industry to target priority markets. The trade delegates in the agriculture sector are working non-stop on the ground to promote and develop Canadian trade in the agriculture and food sector. Investments in innovation are also essential, to open and expand markets and meet global demand. In the future, the world’s population will continue to grow and demand for Canadian foods will only continue to rise.
To help industry seize these opportunities, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is working with his colleagues and the industry to prepare the next strategic framework for agriculture, which will take effect in 2018.
Together, we are preparing a plan that will allow us to expand agricultural and food exports, create jobs for the sector, including he middle class, and grow Canada’s economy.
I am optimistic about the future of the agriculture and agri-food sector, an industry with tremendous economic potential. Canadian agri-food exports continue to hit new records every year. Over the next 30 years, global demand for food is expected to grow by 60%.
Somebody is going to meet that demand, and we want it to be Canadian farmers and food processors. CETA will help us do that.
The sector projects that CETA will boost our agricultural exports by $1.4 billion per year. That means more money for Canadian farmers and families. We are very proud of this achievement.