Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

January 21, 2010 16:02 ET

Government of Canada Creating Market Opportunities in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and the United States

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA--(Marketwire - Jan. 21, 2010) - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz led an agricultural trade mission to Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and the United States to create new market opportunities for Canadian farmers.

"Step by step this Government is working to expand and create new trade opportunities for Canadian farmers and processors," said Minister Ritz. "Trade is a key priority of Canada's Economic Action Plan and that's why Canada is working to level the playing field and give industry the opportunity to be stable and profitable."

In Mexico, Minister Ritz announced a $5 million investment to boost the Mexican appetite and raise consumer awareness of Canada's safe and top quality food. The Canada Brand initiative, part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, will drive promotional activities in Mexico for a wide range of Canadian products, including canola. Canadian agriculture exports to Mexico totaled $1.6 billion in 2008.

"Mexican families are looking for top quality and healthy agricultural products such as Canadian canola oil when they go to the grocery store," said Minister Ritz. "This initiative will further connect the Canadian maple leaf and our commitment to quality to our Canadian agricultural products."

Minister Ritz also met with Secretary of Agriculture Francisco Mayorga and Secretary of Economy, Gerardo Ruiz Mateos and stressed the need for an expedited scientific process that will reopen the Mexican market to Canadian over-thirty-months (OTM) beef.

Minister Ritz took the opportunity to stop in Colombia to reiterate the Government of Canada's dedication to implement the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The Minister met personally with Colombian Minister of Agriculture Andres Fernandez, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Luis Guillermo Plata, and Colombian Agriculture Institute General Manager Luis Fernando Caicedo. The FTA will provide preferential access to the Colombian market for Canadian agriculture and non-agriculture products and is an important market for Canadian wheat and pulses. In 2008, Colombia imported $123 million in Canadian wheat, durum and barley sales and $72 million of pulse and specialty crops.

Minister Ritz also announced that Canada has successfully completed the process to reopen the Colombian market to Canadian beef. That process began last spring when Minister Ritz traveled to Colombia and secured a process to demonstrate the safety of Canadian beef. The Canadian Beef Export Federation estimates the market to be worth $6 million.

Meetings between Canada and Colombia resulted in a clear path forward to fully reopen the Colombian market to Canadian breeding stock and genetics. This process will resolve outstanding livestock certification issues. The Canadian Beef Breeds Council and the Canadian Livestock Genetics Association estimates the increased exports of cattle breeding stock and genetics will be worth $1 million.

The Colombian government also committed to working with Canadian officials to negotiate animal health conditions that would allow Canadian sheep and goat imports.

In Guatemala, Minister Ritz met with Minister of Agriculture, Mario Aldana and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Haroldo Rondas and pressed for full beef market access and duty free access for pork, beef and other agricultural products. Minister Ritz stressed the importance of a mutually beneficial free trade agreement between Canada, Guatemala and other Central American countries. In 2008, Guatemala imported $32 million of Canadian agriculture.

Minister Ritz also spoke at the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Conference in Orlando, Florida about the Government of Canada's clear opposition to Country-of-Origin Labelling (COOL). Minister Ritz committed to maintaining a strong partnership built on the fairest conditions for farmers on both sides of the border.

To view the photos please visit the following links:

Caption: Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in discussion with his Colombian counterpart Minister of Agriculture, Andres Fernandez.

Caption: Left to right, Gerardo Ruiz Mateos, Secretary of Economy of Mexico, Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Guillermo Rishchynski, Ambassador of Canada to Mexico.

Caption: Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture, in discussion with Guatemalan minister of Foreign Affairs, Haroldo Rondas.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Meagan Murdoch
    Press Secretary