Beef cattle producers 'encouraged' by new CPTPP applicants – Canadian Cattlemen

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With their exports on an upswing, the organization for Canada’s beef cattle producers says it’s “encouraged to see other countries’ interest” in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association on Oct. 18 noted the official applications to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) from the United Kingdom, China and Taiwan along with “further interest” from South Korea.

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“We expect the Asian region to hold the largest potential for growth in beef demand over the next 25 years and securing further access to key Asian markets is a priority for us,” CCA president Bob Lowe said in a release.

“We are encouraged to see other countries’ interest in joining CPTPP, as long as they meet the ambitious nature of the trade agreement, which should open and expand exports for Canadian beef farmers and ranchers.”

The CCA noted it’s been a “consistent advocate” for further expansion of the CPTPP, “subject to review of specific country barriers and potential for beef trade.”

With the CPTPP trade pact in effect at the end of 2018, Canadian beef exports for 2020 rose 37 per cent in volume and 35 per cent in value compared to calendar 2018.

From January through August 2021, the CCA said, exports “continue to rise to CPTPP countries and are up 60 per cent in volume and 66 per cent in value.”

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The CPTPP group so far includes Canada as well as Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The United States, which had been in on Trans-Pacific Partnership talks since 2010, dropped out of the bloc in 2017 when then-president Donald Trump declared the U.S. would not ratify the agreement.

As to the new applicant countries’ chances of CPTPP membership, Global Affairs Canada says any “aspirant economies” seeking entry to the group “must be able to meet and comply with the CPTPP’s high-standard rules and ambitious market access commitments.”

Applicant countries also must have “a demonstrated history of compliance with their existing trade commitments.”

From Canada’s specific perspective, China’s interest in CPTPP could blow back on Canada’s participation in another trade bloc, the Canada-U.S.-Mexico free trade agreement (CUSMA).

New rules in CUSMA call for each of three signing countries to inform the other two if it intends to negotiate a free trade pact “with an economy that is determined by one party to be a non-market economy.”

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The CUSMA member country would have to “provide information on objectives, and make available the text of the (other) agreement 30 days before signing,” a Global Affairs Canada spokesperson said via email.

Canada’s membership in the CPTPP has also been a sore spot for Canadian supply-managed sectors, although federal compensation has been committed to the dairy, poultry and egg sectors for domestic Canadian market share lost to imports.

That said, further expansion of the CPTPP would not lead to any increase in the total quota granted to the bloc for dairy, poultry and egg products, Global Affairs Canada said.

“Canada’s (tariff rate quota) commitments under the CPTPP are fixed and could be accessed by new acceding partners, provided they demonstrate a commensurate level of ambition in sectors of export interest to Canada,” a Global Affairs Canada spokesperson said via email.

Canada has already committed that it will not provide additional market access in supply-managed sectors in any future free trade talks — and that commitment would apply to CPTPP expansion as well, the department said.

“Canada’s market access commitments under the CPTPP, including tariff rate quota (TRQ) volumes, are set and will not be renegotiated,” the spokesperson said.

“Canada would immediately reject any request that does not uphold the government’s commitment.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network