Lack of TPP Hurts Our Beef Sector

August 8, 2017
Last week, Japan increased tariffs from 38.5 per cent to 50 per cent on frozen beef imports from Canada, the United States and other countries. This tariff will affect cattle farmers and beef producers across the country and is just another example of the kind of business uncertainty faced by our agriculture community under Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. For two years, the Trudeau Liberals have been “consulting” on whether Canada should ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, of which Japan is a partner. Ratifying and implementing the TPP would’ve prevented this tariff increase from happening.

Japan is Canada’s third largest export market for Canadian beef behind the U.S. and Mexico. In 2016, we exported $45 million in frozen boneless beef to Japan, but the Liberal government has neglected this important trading relationship by prioritizing a free trade agreement with China over the TPP with our allies such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and others.

Historically, the Liberals have had a weak record on trade. When our Conservatives came into government, Canada only had free trade agreements with 14 countries; when we left, we had agreements with 44.

We were the government that negotiated the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union – an agreement that will boost Canada’s economy by $12 billion annually (the equivalent to 80,000 jobs). We were also the government that negotiated the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which was Canada’s first in the Asia-Pacific region. Canadian businesses now have unprecedented access to the emerging Korean market and preferential access to over 50 million new customers.

These agreements, amongst the many others we signed, strongly support the one in five Canadian jobs linked to trade and continue to spur further job creation and growth in Canada. With the TPP, we have a real opportunity to further shape the future of trade in the Asia-Pacific region, but Justin Trudeau is dropping the ball and our agriculture sectors are facing the brunt of this Liberal mismanagement.

Two weeks after the last federal election, the London-based Legatum Institute published its annual “prosperity index”. The Canada that Stephen Harper and the Conservative government left behind was ranked worldwide as 8th in economic quality, 7th in governance and 1st in personal freedom. After a year of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, Canada had dropped in each of those categories to 13th, 9th and 2nd respectively. Decisions like dithering on the TPP and prioritizing trade with China over strong allies such as the United States and Japan are why Canada’s rank is falling.

The Liberal government must send a strong signal to our farmers, ranchers, producers and processors that they will support the agriculture industry by opening up Canada for business in finally committing to the TPP.
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