Commissioned by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), the study outlines the opportunities presented by emerging markets in Asia after decades of “boom-and-bust cycles, frequent surpluses and low farm incomes”, but stresses the need to open the domestic market to competition in order to access crucial free-trade agreements, such as the TPP.
Michael Gifford, Canada’s former chief agricultural trade negotiator and the author of the report said: “Asia’s expanding appetite for imported food provides Canadian agricultural producers with golden opportunities to grow and prosper – provided that the federal and provincial governments and industry work together to identify and overcome a variety of external and internal challenges.”
In particular, Gifford mentioned the highly protected poultry and dairy sectors, which TPP future members have expressed concern about.
“Canada recently asked to join the TPP, but the United States, Australia and New Zealand have yet to agree, citing among other concerns the federal government’s unwillingness to provide increased import access to Canada’s highly protected, supply-managed dairy and poultry sectors,” the CCCE said.
According to Gifford, Canada should be able to access the TPP while still restricting certain kinds of agricultural imports, like other countries did, which would result in “partial rather than complete liberalisation of the most sensitive sectors”, but said that, although not inevitable, liberalisation of trade was “very much in Canada’s national interest”.
“Political sensitivities notwithstanding, the rest of the economy, including the 80% of Canadian agriculture that is tied to world prices, cannot afford to be held hostage to demands by dairy and poultry producers to preserve the status quo,” he added.