"The absence of an FTA [free trade agreement] with Korea was causing substantial and growing prejudice to the Canadian pork industry, due to the tariff rates since all of our key competitors in South Korea have FTAs in place," said Jean-Guy Vincent, chair of the Canadian Pork Council.
Likewise, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Dave Solverson noted that the deal will level the playing field for Canadian beef producers competing against US exporters – its key beef competitor.
America already has a free trade agreement with South Korea. He added tariffs have been Canadian exporters’ main impediment since South Korea lifted its mad cow disease (BSE) prohibition on Canada in 2012.
The Canadian Meat Council noted Canada’s meat producers have also struggled against the impact of South Korea’s free trade agreements with the European Union, Australia and Chile.
"After having reached [Canadian dollars] CA$96 million [US$86.2m] of beef and CA$233m of pork in 2011, the absence of competitive market access resulted in Canadian beef and pork exports falling to... CA$8m and CA$76m in 2013," said a council communiqué.
The council stressed how South Korean import tariffs currently include 40% on chilled and frozen beef, 22.5% on chilled pork and 25% on frozen pork. Documents detailing the agreement noted such tariffs will be among those eliminated gradually.
Examples of the liberalisation schedule include the phasing-out of duties on fresh/chilled/frozen beef cuts and some processed beef over 15 years; fresh/chilled/frozen pork over five to 13 years; and 18% on beef and pork offal over 11 years.