Amid rumblings of U.S. action against Canadian agri-food imports, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay recently spelled out the importance of cross-border trade to American agriculture leaders.
Also read, Pulses: Canadian dry pea exports increase.
In a speech in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to the annual meeting of the State Agriculture Leaders and the Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit, MacAulay said in 2016, “$50 billion in agriculture and food products crossed our borders. We are each other’s largest trading partner in agriculture and food. Our agricultural trade is balanced, meaning we export just about as much as we import.”
Nine million American jobs “depend on trade and investment with Canada,” he pointed out. “North America is a marketplace of close to half a billion consumers for our home- grown North American farm and food products."
The Canada-United States trading partnership has been great for our economies. And it continues to be.
“We have no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States.”
The integration of the North American agri-food systems “makes us more competitive here in North America and around the world,” he added. “And it gives our consumers access to great food products 365 days a year.
“The fact is, Canada and the United States make great food together. Whether it’s beer or burgers or bacon, chances are you’ll find a little bit of Canada and the United States in every bite.”
The minister also reminded the audience that “the United States exports more agricultural products to Canada than it exports to China. Over half of the states in the union count Canada as their No. 1 agricultural export market. The bottom line is this: if we grow our trade, we grow our economies — together. The sector creates jobs and we put more money in the pockets of farmers.”
MacAulay noted that adding Mexico to the equation made North America even more important to the global economy. “We export close to a quarter of a trillion dollars in agri-food and seafood products to the world.”
In addition to protests against supply-managed products and a new challenge under consideration over wheat, there is concern that the U.S. country-of-origin labelling for meat shipments could be revived even though the World Trade Organization ruled it violated international trade laws.
MacAulay said a better course of action is continuing to work together to become more competitive around the world.
“That helps all of us. It helps our farmers, and it helps our people and our economies,” he said.
“The long-standing partnership between the United States and Canada continues to grow and we look forward to building on this partnership with the new administration."
“Our two countries are also working hard to streamline trade in agriculture and food through regulatory co-operation. Through such co-operation, we can reduce red tape, streamline our regulations and cut costs.”
MacAulay also noted the countries’ common goal is to keep their agriculture sectors strong and competitive.
“That’s the best way to ensure farmers have a prosperous future,” he said. “Today, the need for collaboration is even more important — given the growing competition we face beyond our common shores.”
At the same time, the two countries need to work to address their differences, he said. “The world’s demand for food is growing. There’s no question that our nations can respond to that demand, with our high-quality food and world-class producers. I want our producers to have access to those markets.
“And we must continue to show the world the benefits that trade brings for job creation and economic growth — not only for agriculture, but for all sectors.”
SOURCE Alex Binkley, Manitoba Co-operator
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