Cattle groups “say no” to U.K. joining trade agreement until barriers on Canada are removed

Three cattle groups are calling on the federal government to defend Canada’s science-based trade standards.

The Canadian Cattle Association, Canadian Meat Council, and the National Cattle Feeders’ Association launched a campaign yesterday (Tues) called “Say No to a Bad Deal”.

President of the CCA Nathan Phinney says the campaign raises awareness of ongoing bi-lateral trade talks between Canada and the U.K., specifically around beef and pork.

A key issue, Phinney says, is the United Kingdom not accepting Canada’s food safety standards.

“We’re basing our industry off science, which we always support science-based trade, science-based rules and science-based outcomes. We’ve got one of the highest, safest food systems in the world here in Canada, and the U.K. will not recognize that system as being acceptable to trade into their country.” Phinney said.

“The world-class standards of Canada’s red meat sector have set benchmarks across the industry. Not only will this deal hurt the pockets of Canadian meat processors, and farmers, it additionally puts consumers at risk by deprioritizing scientific-based controls and lowering the bar for international regulations.” said Chris White, President and CEO of the Canadian Meat Council in a joint news release.

 “Trade is essential to the long-term sustainability of the beef sector and Canada needs and deserves fair and reciprocal access to the UK.” added Will Lowe, Chair of the National Cattle Feeders’ Association.

The U.K.’s non-tariff trade barriers have had an affect on exports as Canada has been unable to access the U.K. market, while the United Kingdom has exported $50-million worth of meat to Canada, according to the organizations.

Despite the trade roadblocks, Phinney says Canada is supporting the U.K. in their bid to join the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which they take issue with.

“The U.K. is looking for acceptance and ratification into this trade deal but they’re also bringing this regulation issue along with them…and we’re saying absolutely not till these regulations are dealt with.” he said. “This is what the basis of the campaign is.”

Phinney adds once the trade barriers are removed, then they will be in full support of the U.K. joining the CPTPP.

Phinney has had conversations with his U.K. counterparts, who remain firm in their stance.

“The irony is they use the same systems on different products, but it came down to within their goverment – they politicize all their regulations and they have to go before (British) Parliament,” he explained. 

“We’re expressing that we want the use of science-based regulations, we don’t need politicized regulations to be imposed and we’re hoping that we’ll get back on track with some conversations and have them realize that this is the only route that our industries, globally, should be basing our trade and our productions systems off of is a science-based approach.”

Phinney described the term “science-based” as something the beef and pork industry prides itself on – conducting the necessary due diligence to ensure Canada’s standards are the best in the world.

The 3 groups say if those barriers are not removed, they’re asking Parliament to ensure Canadian producers and processors are compensated for the damages and losses that will result.

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