The Canadian Wheat Board

The Canadian Wheat Board

May 04, 2007 14:42 ET

CWB Applauds Government's Free-Trade Push With Peru, Colombia

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(CCNMatthews - May 4, 2007) - The CWB welcomes the Government of Canada's upcoming free-trade talks with Peru and Colombia, which are crucial to protecting more than $200 million worth of annual Prairie wheat exports.

Speaking to the Council of the Americas in Washington on May 2, International Trade Minister David Emerson said he expected the talks to be underway in 2007.

"We are heartened by Minister Emerson's comments and we urge the federal government to move quickly in securing free-trade agreements to protect the interests of Prairie producers," said Larry Hill, an elected farmer director from Swift Current who chairs the board's trade committee.

Canadian wheat worth about $220 million a year risks being shut out of these markets by free-trade agreements concluded between the United States and the two Andean nations. The deals, awaiting ratification by the U.S. Congress, would put Canada at a serious tariff disadvantage for wheat exports to these countries.

The U.S. Wheat Associates recently said it expects the agreements with Peru and Colombia to double American sales to more than $400 million. This would come largely at the expense of western Canadian wheat farmers.

Peru purchased a record 575 000 tonnes of western Canadian wheat in 2006, up 33 per cent from 2005, while Colombia purchased 400 000 tonnes. Canada has more than doubled its exports of grains, pulse and special crops to Peru since 2002, mainly due to a 155-per-cent increase in wheat exports. Total Canadian exports to Peru in 2006 reached a record $288 million, with combined wheat and durum exports comprising 43 per cent, or about $124 million.

"The CWB has built excellent customer relations in these Andean nations," Hill said. "We have also partnered with others in the agricultural industry to raise our concerns with Ottawa about the risk to Canadian exports. Now that the goal is close at hand, we urge Minister Emerson to keep forging ahead."

In 2003, the CWB and other major Canadian agricultural exporters formally began advocating for more progress on bilateral trade agreements. The group is concerned that Canada is falling behind other countries - most notably the U.S. - in forging such deals, risking a serious competitive trade disadvantage. Concerned exporters include the Canola Council of Canada, Pulse Canada, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Pork Council, Canada Pork International, Cavendish Farms, the Canadian Oilseeds Processors Association and the Canadian Grain and Oilseeds Exporters Association.

Controlled by western Canadian farmers, the CWB is the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world. One of Canada's biggest exporters, the Winnipeg-based organization sells grain to over 70 countries and returns all sales revenue, less marketing costs, to farmers.

Contact Information

  • CWB
    Maureen Fitzhenry
    Media Relations Manager
    (204) 983-3101
    Cell: (204) 227-6927