Canada eyes more beef, grain exports to Europe

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags International trade Canada

Canada is making overtures towards free trade talks with Europe that could open up a new source of beef for the EU – if a parallel hormone-free industry could be established – and boost grain supplies.

The use of growth hormones in beef in North American has been a major trade bugbear for the last 20 years. The EU currently allows Canada and the US to supply it with 11500 tonnes of hormone-free beef a year at 20 per cent tariff.

As the US has recently negotiated 20000 tonnes hormone-free a year for the next three years, Canada is hoping for similar access, according to Reuters​.

The newswire notes that European beef demand is currently at 8m tonnes, but it produces only 7.5m tonnes itself.

To this end, Canada and the EU are in bi-lateral negotiations that are separate from free trade talks.

John Masswohl, director of government and international relations for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said: “There is a huge opportunity for Canadian beef producers if we can get preferential access”.

In order to cater to European demands, however, Canada would have to invest in hormone-free slaughter houses.

However give that the Canadian beef sector has suffered from low prices and restrictive labelling laws from its neighbour the US, the investment could prove worth it to stimulate the market.

If 500000 to 600000 tonnes of Canadian beef were shipped to Europe, there would be demand for an additional 2m head of cattle in Canada.

Grain trade

The European brewing industry could also benefit from new trade arrangements with Canada.

While high protein quality wheat carried no tariff at the moment, medium- and lower-quality wheat does. Malting barley for beer carries and 8 per cent tariff for the first 50000 tonnes, and higher tariffs for quantities above that.

The Canadian Wheat Board sees particular opportunities to supply more organic grain.

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