November 25, 2008

Colombia, Canada's free trade agreement to increase barley, wheat trade


A free trade agreement signed between Canada and Colombia November 21 is expected to translate into wheat and barley sales from Western Canadian farmers, a new release from the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) said Monday (November 24).


"We congratulate the Government of Canada for signing this important deal," CWB President and Chief Executive Ian White said. "We now urge its swift ratification to ensure western Canadian grain farmers continue to have competitive access to this valuable market."


Based on five-year averages, the CWB annually exports about 360,000 tonnes of wheat and 100,000 tonnes of malting barley to Colombia.


The agreement is especially important in light of efforts by the US to also secure a bilateral free-trade agreement with Colombia. The US has concluded free trade agreements with both Colombia and Peru, but their implementation has been stalled. Canada has also now negotiated free trade deals with the two Andean nations, but must achieve parliamentary approval for both.


The two markets are together worth approximately C$230 million a year to western Canadian farmers, the CWB said.


"Without these agreements in place, we risk being shut out of those markets if the US, our main competitor in those countries, were to implement deals that left Canada at a serious tariff disadvantage," White said.


Since 2003, the CWB has been urging the government of Canada to forge bilateral deals with a number of countries to prevent Canadian grain exports from losing ground to international competitors.

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