August 20, 2003

 

 

Two Caribbean Nations To Open Borders To Canadian Beef

 

Two Caribbean countries have agreed to re-open their borders to Canadian beef in the coming weeks, a move exporters hope will have a domino effect on other countries in the region, according to a Canadian Press (CP) report.

 

Officials from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have given Canada notice they will soon accept beef products, Foreign Affairs spokesman Andre Lemay said Monday in the CP report.

 

"Essentially the good news is we've been notified that they are considering this and it's not a question of months - it's a question of weeks," Lemay said from Ottawa.

 

A formal announcement is expected within days.

 

Earlier this month, the U.S. and Mexico - Canada's largest beef markets - agreed to partially lift bans on beef products. The borders remain closed to live cattle imports.

 

The decision is welcome news for Canada's beef industry, which has been shut down since a single cow in Alberta tested positive for mad-cow disease on May 20, halting virtually all exports.

 

"We believe this will cause a ripple effect, and we are just continuing our marketing efforts in all countries where we have diplomatic representation to say 'We have a very safe product here,'" said Lemay.

 

The development was applauded by Ted Haney of the Canada Beef Export Federation, whose members have been losing $11 million a day.

 

"They're not big as importers, they are not big as destinations of Canadian beef, but every one of these early openings is important," said Haney in the report.

 

"As you get decisions in a region, we would expect to see a trickle-down or domino effect on other markets in (that) region," he said. "This might be our route in to trigger a change in one or more South American countries."

 

Lemay did not know if the Caribbean countries will accept a wider range of cattle products than the U.S. or Mexico.

 

Thirty-four countries banned Canadian beef in the days following word that a lone cow was confirmed to have been infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as BSE or mad cow disease. The cow never made it into the human food chain.

 

The partially opened border to the U.S. represents only about 40% of Canada's beef exports. New rules on live imports into the U.S., which was worth C$1.8 billion last year, are being reviewed with draft proposals expected by Sept. 1