Canada to develop hormone-free beef for EU

Canada will start developing capacity to produce hormone-free meat for the European Union (EU) market
Canada will start developing capacity to produce hormone-free meat for the European Union (EU) market

Related tags European union Beef Lamb Pork Poultry

Canada will start developing capacity to produce hormone-free meat for the European Union (EU) market following the conclusion of an EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), a senior European Commission official has said. The end of technical negotiations was formally announced on Friday 26 September, during an EU-Canada summit in Ottawa.

Once CETA starts being implemented (maybe in 2016), Canada hopes to export 50,000 tonnes (t) of beef to the EU annually – enough to justify the development of hormone-free beef production, the official explained. This will take a few years, he added. “The Canadians intend to build on this to have a position worldwide in producing hormone-free beef,”​ the official continued.

He also sought to appease fears of Canadian competition for the EU beef producers. The quantity to be imported from Canada is insignificant for the EU market, he said, since it represents only 0.6% of the total beef quantity. “I know there are worries, but one should worry more about the closing of the Russian market than the concessions to Canada,”​ he said.

Moreover, Canada is working to eliminate its ban on European beef, imposed following the BSE outbreak in 1990s, the official told GlobalMeatNews. “They are trying to figure out a way to do that without damaging their trade with the US, since there is virtually no barrier between the US and Canada,”​ he explained. The Canadians are worried that European beef imports could be re-exported to the US duty-free and need to ensure this cannot happen before lifting the ban, the official further explained. “They are finding mechanisms to isolate imports and exports from different sources without closing the borders – it can be done,”​ he added.

Meanwhile, European CETA negotiators managed to obtain protection for the Parma ham trademark – ‘prosciutto di Parma’ in Italian - under the European geographical indications scheme, the official said. This will unlock the Canadian market for Italian Parma ham producers, he said, noting that Italian producers have had to contend with Canadian-made and trademarked ‘Parma’ ham. Under CETA, both can be sold in Canada, while the Canadian ‘Parma’ cannot be exported to the EU.

One meat product untouched by CETA is poultry: “Chicken was not liberalised because Canada is very protective of this industry and we export virtually nothing to it,”​ the Commission official said. “It will be different with the US and Latin America, but it was a non-issue with Canada,”​ he added.

Meanwhile, Canadian meat producers welcomed greater EU access. “As far as we’re concerned, the sooner we can have this implemented, now that negotiations are completed, the happier we would be,”​ said Ron Davidson, director of government and media relations at the Canadian Meat Council.

The deal will remove 94% of EU tariffs for Canadian agricultural goods, and allow Canadian exporters greater access to the European market for beef, pork, bison and horse meat.

Regarding the BSE ban and EU qualms over some Canadian food inspection practices, such as hot carcase washes, “there’s a lot of motivation on both sides to get all these technical issues resolved... so that we can have good, science-based trade take place,”​ John Masswohl, director of government and international relations at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association told GlobalMeatNews​.

Masswohl also stressed the need for both governments to swiftly ratify the agreement. Davidson added there could still be delays to ratification given 28 EU countries have to confirm the deal: “So the challenge now is to make it happen.”

Regarding Canadian exports, the final negotiations have established quota amounts for Canadian tariff-free meat products, including 80,549t of pork, 50,000t of beef (35,000t fresh/chilled and 15,000t frozen/other), and 3,000t of bison per year, a spokesperson Canada’s department of foreign affairs, trade and development confirmed.

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