Meat & Livestock News

Canadian Meat Industry Questions UK’s Role in Pacific Trade Pact, Sparks Public Campaign

In a move that has raised eyebrows across sectors, Canada’s beef and red meat industry is actively rallying citizens to question the United Kingdom’s recent inclusion in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Spearheaded by the Canadian Cattle Association, Canadian Meat Council, and National Cattle Feeders’ Association, a campaign named “Say No To a Bad Deal” was launched on September 12. The initiative aims to prompt the federal government to reevaluate the UK’s formal role in the trade agreement, a move that has been met with mixed reactions.

The campaign was triggered by a July announcement where Pacific nations, including Canada, extended a warm welcome to the UK as the 12th member of the CPTPP. The group already comprises key players like Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

While International Trade Minister Mary Ng has been vocal in her support for the UK’s entry, describing both nations as committed to “open, predictable, and inclusive” commerce, the red meat sector in Canada has expressed reservations.

At the heart of the industry’s concerns is the UK’s unwillingness to recognise the safety measures in place for Canada’s meat processing and food production. This stance effectively puts a halt to any imports of Canadian beef and pork into the UK.

A joint press statement from the industry bodies involved in the campaign highlighted that the proposed agreement would allow the UK to flood the Canadian market with over $50 million worth of meat products, while offering no reciprocal arrangement for Canadian exports.

To tackle these trade imbalances, the Canadian government is in talks with the UK to hammer out a separate agreement within the broader CPTPP framework. However, industry advocates are not just sitting back. They are urging federal lawmakers to vote down any legislative measures that would cement the UK’s role in the CPTPP.

Their apprehensions go beyond mere trade deficits in red meat; they are also concerned about the long-term implications for the trade pact itself. Nathan Phinney, the President of the Canadian Cattle Association, warned that the UK’s entry could set a “risky precedent” for other nations eyeing membership in the future.

Chris White, who leads the Canadian Meat Council, added another layer of concern. He emphasised the dangers of moving away from science-based regulations in international trade agreements. Such a shift, he warned, could compromise consumer safety by weakening global regulatory standards.

The UK’s reluctance to allow Canadian meat imports has been bolstered by its own agricultural community. British farming groups have been lobbying their government to exclude Canadian meat, citing what they claim are inferior production standards.

This is a claim hotly contested by Canadian industry groups, who argue that Canada’s food safety measures are globally respected.

In a recent development, a spokesperson for Agriculture Canada, Samantha Seary, indicated that the federal government expects the UK to align with CPTPP rules, which should be based on “scientific assessments and risk evaluations.” This suggests that the “Say No To a Bad Deal” campaign may be making some headway in Ottawa, adding another layer of complexity to the ongoing trade discussions.