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Manitoba canola and pork industries are among the winners in the just signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Both industries have been lobbying hard for Canada to stick with the negotiations and officials breathed a sigh of relief today.

"When we came into this we were looking at make sure we would be on a level playing field with other oil seed exporters," said Brian Innes the vice-president of government relations with the Canola Council of Canada.

That’s what they got.

It’s too early to know what the impact will eventually be but elimination of import tariffs in Japan on pork products and canola oil are both expected to create significant new opportunities for Manitoba producers.

For instance, the Canola Council of Canada believes the loosening of tariff restrictions in Japan on canola oil — totalling about 15 per cent — will benefit the entire Canadian canola value chain by about $780 million per year.

Canada controls about 65-to-70 per cent of the global canola market already. It had been selling unprocessed to canola seed into Japan for 40 years but had been effectively shut out of the higher value canola oil market in Japan.

Manitoba represents close to 20 per cent of the total value the Canadian canola industry so there is a potential for a significant impact to the Canadian economy.

Manitoba pork exports already total about $700 million per year to seven of the 12 TPP signatories.

But access to the Japanese market is the big prize.

The elimination over 10 years of a 4.3 per cent tariff on pork imports to Japan as well as the elimination of a handful of other pork trade barriers in Japan is a much needed piece of good news for the Manitoba hog and pork sector that has struggled for the past few years under some unfair trade sanctions with the U.S.

"This sends a positive signal for our ability to market more pork into these markets," said Andrew Dickson, general manager of the Manitoba Pork Council. "How much it will be will all depend on how much we can ramp up. We have to be cost-competitive because the Americans have the exactly the same rates we do."

Ensuring access to the markets under the same terms as the competitors is a major feature for industry lobbyists.

In particular, Australia, the world’s second largest canola exporters — Canada is the largest by far — had recently concluded a deal with Japan to eliminate tariffs on canola oil imports.

A free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea a couple of years ago put Canadian hog and pork producers on the heels with that growing market.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Martin Cash

Martin Cash
Reporter

Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.

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