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Delay U.K. Entry to Trade Deal, Say Meat Producers

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Canadian beef producers want the country’s food safety systems recognized in the United Kingdom before Britain is formally allowed to join the trans-Pacific trade deal known as CPTPP. Canadian Cattle Association president Nathan Phinney delivered that message to the North American, European Union Agricultural Conference in Charlottetown last week.

He observed that the room was largely in agreement on most issues. “We all believe in the science, there’s no debating that here,” he told the 250 delegates. “On the trade side of things, we have politicized some regulations. If we’re going to talk the talk, then we got to walk the walk. If we’re going to say everything is science-based or research-based, then those are the standards we need to hold to.

“Regardless of which country you come from, I think our policy and regulators need to be told,” he said to applause. In an interview, Phinney said he spoke to British delegates about Canada’s concerns. “They can see our frustration. As far as I’m concerned, they see that our system is good,” he said. “I’m encouraged that they’re going to go back and put some pressure on their policymakers.”

The CCA, along with the Canadian Meat Council and National Cattle Feeders’ Association, began a campaign Sept. 12 to delay the U.K.’s entry to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, until non-tariff barriers are resolved. The U.K. doesn’t recognize Canada’s food safety systems and doesn’t allow beef or pork imports.

“We want our food safety system recognized and then we can have reciprocal trade, because as it stands right now $40 million worth of product came into Canada in 2022 and Canada sent zero to the U.K.,” said Phinney. He said the Canadian government hasn’t fixed this trade issue yet it wants to allow Britain into one of the best trade deals that has served the beef industry very well.

“We’re worried about the precedent that it sets, that you’re now letting the first country come in with regulations and it doesn’t adhere or uphold those free trade standards that the other countries that originally got in the deal do,” Phinney said. He agreed that the U.K. meat market is a niche for Canada at its low value but that isn’t the point.

The campaign, Say No To A Bad Deal, includes a website where more information is available. Producers, packers and others are asked to contact their MPs to raise their concerns. In July, other signatories to the CPTPP welcomed the U.K. as the 12th member. Canada is also working on a bilateral deal with Britain. The Canadian beef and meat organizations said they want governments to achieve viable access for Canadian beef and pork and then it would completely support the U.K.’s accession.