November 18, 2011
Unless Ottawa relaunches deferred talks on a free trade deal, Canada's pork producers may lose CAD300 million (US$295 million) a year in exports to South Korea, the industry said on Thursday (Nov 17).
South Korea, which charges tariffs of up to 25%, takes 10% of Canada's pork exports. Major producers fear this will shrink when a free trade deal that Seoul has signed with the US takes full effect in 2016.
"By 2016, the US will have no duty on chilled and frozen pork (exports to South Korea) ... With this disadvantage our Korean business will be gone within two years," said Richard Davies of Olymel LP, which along with Maple Leaf Foods is one of Canada's top hog producers.
Talks on a Canada-South Korea free trade deal have been frozen since 2008, in part because of restrictions Seoul places on the import of Canadian autos.
The offices of Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz did not respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this year, another long-standing obstacle was removed when South Korea agreed in principle to reopen its market to Canadian beef. Seoul banned imports after mad cow disease was discovered in Canada in 2003.
Canada is the world's third-largest exporter of pork and beef.