Government of Canada

Government of Canada

November 01, 2007 16:10 ET

Arrangement Between Canada and the United States Benefits Potato Producers and Processors

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 1, 2007) - The Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board and the Honourable David Emerson, Minister of International Trade today welcomed the conclusion of an arrangement to facilitate bilateral trade in potatoes destined for further repackaging or processing between Canada and the United States.

"The Government of Canada is working hard for Canadian farmers and the Canadian potato sector," said Minister Ritz. "The conclusion of the Technical Arrangement Concerning Trade in Potatoes is another example of how close cooperation and consultation with potato growers, processors and importers in both countries can lead to solutions that benefit us all."

"Canada and the U.S. have a longstanding partnership that serves as a foundation for resolving issues together," said Minister Emerson. "This government is pleased to have signed an arrangement that will improve market access for producers and processors on both sides of the border."

Canada and the U.S. are by far each others' largest export markets for potatoes. In 2006, Canada's exports of potatoes destined for further repackaging or processing represented over $123 million.

The Technical Arrangement Concerning Trade in Potatoes comes into effect on November 1, 2007. It will be phased in over the next three years, focusing on four key elements:

- Mutual recognition of Canadian and American standards and certification procedures related to quality grade standards of imported potatoes.

- Changes to Canada's administrative process for issuing Ministerial Exemptions. Ministerial Exemptions are issued to alleviate a shortage in the Canadian supply of potatoes. They waive the regulatory requirements for grade, packaging and labelling, when there is evidence of a potato shortage in Canada, allowing Canadian importers to purchase bulk containers of potatoes from other provinces or the U.S. Currently, Ministerial Exemptions are issued by request on a case by case basis. In the first two years of the Arrangement, historical data may be considered in the assessment of potato shortages for the purpose of issuing Ministerial Exemptions. In year three of the Arrangement, contracts between Canadian importers and American exporters may be considered in this assessment.

- The progressive elimination of American funding to spot-check Canadian potatoes at north-eastern U.S. border crossings.

- Initiation of an American rulemaking to propose that their import requirements allow for the import of Canadian potatoes of a greater variety of sizes or colour.

In addition to facilitating potato trade between Canada and the U.S., the arrangement will provide opportunities for the reduction of various compliance costs for industry. It recognizes that Canadian and American quality grade standards are reasonably comparable.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will retain the right to develop quality assurance systems, establish phytosanitary requirements and conduct inspections for health and safety reasons.

Contact Information

  • Office of Minister Ritz
    Todd MacKay
    Director of Communications
    Canadian Food Inspection Agency
    Media relations
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Media Relations
    Office of the Minister of International Trade and
    Minister for the Pacific Gateway and
    the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics
    Francois Jubinville
    Director of Communications
    Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
    Trade Media Relations Office