Ratify Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal asap, says beef group

Levelling the playing field in Japan is the top priority, says Alberta Beef Producers

Alberta Beef Producers is urging the new federal Liberal government to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal “as soon as possible.”

The producer group said its top priority is getting equal access to the Japanese market.

“Our competitors in Australia implemented a free trade agreement with Japan at the start of 2015 and are already enjoying a tariff advantage in their beef exports,” the organization said in a release.

“The TPP will gradually reduce Japan’s 38.5 per cent tariff on Canadian beef down to nine per cent in 15 years, including an immediate cut to 27.5 per cent that will restore our competitive position with Australian beef.

“We believe that Canada could eventually double or triple annual beef exports to Japan to nearly $300 million.”

Alberta Beef Producers joined the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and its provincial cousins in writing federal International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay “to express our strong and enthusiastic support.”

The 12-nation trade agreement, which covers 40 per cent of the world’s economy, would also eliminate beef tariffs in Vietnam and Malaysia, and also address issues with Korea, Taiwan, and Peru, the producer group added.

Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have expressed support for the trade deal, but there is speculation Ottawa has put ratification on the slow track as it waits to see what happens in Washington. President Barack Obama has called on Congress to pass the agreement, but the deal faces an uphill battle as leading labour groups oppose it and many Republicans and Democrats fear it could lead to major job losses.

There’s a complicated ratification formula, which boils down to this: If the U.S., Japan, and four other signatories approve the deal, it will come into effect in October 2017. To come in effect earlier, all 12 nations would have to approve the agreement.

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