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New partnership gives a boost to transpacific trade

Canada’s beef producers rely on international trade to keep their industry growing in a global economy. That’s why the National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA) was thrilled when the Government of Canada announced it has reached a trade deal with ten of Asia-Pacific’s fastest growing economies.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will provide tariff-free and/or competitive access to key markets in the Asia-Pacific region. It is to be signed in March and must then be ratified by the Canadian Parliament and by the governments of the ten other member countries.

We spoke with Claire Citeau, executive director of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), to learn why the agreement is so important for Canada’s agri-foods producers, including beef producers.

“Overall the CPTPP will reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers, open new, growing markets for Canadian agri-food products, and support jobs and prosperity here at home,” said Claire. “It will provide the sector with unprecedented access to the important Japanese market and rapidly growing Asian markets like Vietnam and Malaysia.

“The 11 countries in the CPTPP region include some of our main export markets, including Japan and Mexico, as well as seven new countries,” continued Claire. “Japan in particular is the big prize as it is our third export market and a high value market for Canadian agriculture and agrifood  – it is the largest economy in the CPTPP region, and the third largest in the world. Vietnam and Malaysia are other countries that could represent expanding markets.”

Some of Canada’s main competitors, such as Australia, have free trade agreements with countries in this region, which has given them a huge advantage over Canada when it comes to exports. The CPTPP will help to level the playing field.

Since the U.S. dropped out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and does not have free trade agreements with Japan, CPTPP will give Canadian producers a distinct advantage over the U.S. in the Japanese market.

Why speedy ratification is crucial

John Weekes, senior business advisor at Bennett Jones, former ambassador to the WTO and Canada’s chief negotiator for NAFTA, said he attributes Japanese leadership to TPP coming back to life again as the CPTPP – because they saw it as an important way to fill the vacuum that was left in the Asia-Pacific area when the U.S. retreated from the original TPP negotiations early in 2017. The Japanese came to the conclusion that it would be important to have a trade agreement with the sort of provisions that are in the CPTPP, in that part of the world. If Canada had turned its back on CPTPP, we could have faced not having a trade agreement with the Japanese for at least a decade.

John Weekes speaking at a Canadian International Council event in Ottawa on February 12, 2018.

When addressing attendees at the Alberta Beef Industry Conference in Red Deer on February 23, 2018 John stated,

Canada should approve CPTPP in parliament as soon as possible so we get in on the ground floor on tariff reductions and secure lower tariffs as quickly as possible.

Claire Citeau explained that the CPTPP will enter into force 60 days after at least six members ratify it. “We may lose the ‘first mover advantage’ if Canada is not among the first countries to ratify,” she said. “If our competitors ratify and implement the CPTPP before Canada, they will benefit from the initial rounds of tariff cuts and we won’t, putting us at a further disadvantage.”

“Having better and more competitive access to markets like Japan will create further growth and help create jobs in urban and rural areas in Canada,” concluded Claire.

Stay tuned for future blog posts, in which we will keep you updated on the ratification process.

Excellent reasons to attend this year’s Alberta Beef Industry Conference

On Feb 21-28, members of Alberta’s beef producing industry and their suppliers will gather at the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel, along with journalists, politicians and others interested in beef and the people who bring it to our tables.

The 15th annual Alberta Beef Industry Conference is a chance to find out what’s new, learn about the industry’s achievements and challenges, and make connections.

As always, the conference is packed with a great lineup of speakers. Here are a few highlights:

Andrew Ramlo: This strategic management consultant specializes in helping organizations develop strategies to address industry challenges and opportunities. He will be sharing his insights into everything from the changing consumption patterns of domestic and export markets, to issues of production and labour force trends.

Mark Sheridan: The president of Hester Creek Estate Winery will speak about the evolution of B.C.’s wine industry and the value the Vintners Quality Alliance has brought to wine producers in British Columbia.

John Weekes: As a senior adviser with Bennett Jones, John has worked with the National Cattle Feeders’ Association on many trade files, providing business and strategic advice. He will comment on NAFTA, Canada’s trade agreement with the United States and Mexico; the EU and the implementation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA); efforts to bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) into force without the U.S.; and trade relations with China and India.

Bruce Cameron: This veteran pollster will explore the challenges our democracy faces in a world where truth is relative. Using timely examples, he will show how integrating new social media metrics with established polling techniques offers a way to reduce margins of error and restore truth in politics.

The conference promises to be packed with great information. To learn more about these and other speakers, visit the conference program page.

Meeting with MPs helps foster understanding of cattle feeders’ issues

One of the primary mandates for both ACFA and NCFA is to act as an information source for government policy makers, and to build champions for Canadian agriculture and agri-food. 

Every year, when Parliament breaks for the summer, we get the opportunity to reconnect with MPs as they return to their constituencies. On Aug. 22, NFCA’s Bryan Walton, president and CEO, and Casey Vander Ploeg, vice-president, met with MPs and feedlot operators to discuss a number of pressing issues facing cattle feeders.

Who attended the meeting

The meeting was attended by Rachel Harder, MP for Lethbridge, Glen Motz, MP for Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner and John Barlow, MP for Foothills.

In addition to Bryan and Casey, the ACFA’s members were represented by feedlot operators James Bekkering, Leighton Kolk, Rick Paskal, Cody Schooten, Shane Schooten and Larry Sears.

Important industry issues to watch for

Meetings such as this provide an opportunity for a semi-formal conversation about the issues and concerns of cattle feeders. This gives their representatives in Parliament the information they need for informed and balanced decision making. Some of the issues discussed at the meeting included:

1) Trade. Always a top priority, the agenda included updates on the following trade issues:

    • Trade with China. John Barlow provided a report on a recent Governor General’s Mission to China, which he attended. In addition, a recent agreement to expand U.S. exports to China has left Canada behind, and the need for the federal government to secure the same access for Canada was discussed.
    • NAFTA, and its importance to the cattle feeding industry.
    • Trans-Pacific Partnership, which needs to be altered and rebooted since the U.S. has pulled out.

2) Labour, and the chronic agriculture labour shortage both in Alberta and throughout Canada.

3) Rural Infrastructure.

4) Transportation Regulations.

5) Canada Food Guide.

As with any such meetings, we are confident this meeting provided government officials with a better understanding of the issues facing Alberta’s cattle feeders, and how to support them as they continue to feed Canadians and contribute to the economy.

You can read more about the cattle feeders’ top issues in ‘5 feedlot issues to watch for in 2017’.

5 must-know facts about the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association

Cattle feeders

The Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association (ACFA) has led the industry for more than four decades. We are the voice of cattle feeders who raise a substantial percentage of beef produced in Alberta.

Here, in five brief points, is a snapshot of who we are, what we do, and why you should be interested:

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Cattle feeding in 2015: a year in review

This was another busy year for the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association, as we continued to support our industry through five strategic priorities.  With new governments both provincially and federally, we’ve been kept very busy. Here are some of 2015’s highlights:

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