Pact to lift farm ex­ports to China

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­nadai­lyusa. com

Con­sumers in China will taste Cana­dian blue­ber­ries and cher­ries for the first time as a re­sult of an agri­cul­tural trade mis­sion to the coun­try, and Canada will get al­most C$700 mil­lion ($654.67 mil­lion) in ex­port agree­ments that range from the fruit and greater ac­cess for beef to ti­mothy hay.

Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz led a del­e­ga­tion of more than 70. They in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 30 as­so­ci­a­tions and com­pa­nies, provin­cial min­is­ters of agri­cul­ture from Bri­tish Columbia and Man­i­toba, along with of­fi­cials from Al­berta and Saskatchewan.

“I think the tone was very pos­i­tive. We met with high­level of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Chi­nese Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Han Changfu, who was very gra­cious. I be­lieve we de­vel­oped some per­sonal re­la­tion­ships that will be very ben­e­fi­cial for Cana­dian agri­cul­ture in the fu­ture,” Ritz said in an in­ter­view with China Daily about the mis­sion that con­cluded on June 20.

China is Canada’s sec­ond­biggest agri­cul­ture ex­port mar­ket af­ter the United States. In 2013, to­tal agri­cul­ture and seafood ex­ports to China were val­ued at about C$5.6 bil­lion, a sharp in­crease from C$1.6 bil­lion in 2008.

Ritz said that key ac­com­plish­ments from the trade mis­sion in­cluded mar­ke­tac­cess gains for beef, cat­tle, swine, ti­mothy hay, blue­ber­ries and cher­ries that could be worth more than C$400 mil­lion an­nu­ally; signed con­tracts for al­falfa hay over the next two years; and signed agree­ments for Cana­dian ex­ports that will re­sult in an­other C$280 mil­lion.

The Chi­nese are at­tracted to Cana­dian food and agri­cul­ture prod­ucts be­cause of “the qual­ity of our prod­ucts and the con­sis­tency of our sup­plies,’’ Ritz said.

“Food safety is a big con­cern in China as it is in the rest of the world. They like the trace­abil­ity in our sys­tem par­tic­u­larly when it comes to beef and pork prod­ucts. Plus, when we prom­ise a cer­tain quan­tity of soy­beans or other com­modi­ties, we al­ways deliver that amount,” he said.

China has a fast-grow­ing mid­dle class among its pop­u­la­tion of 1.3 bil­lion, and this should bode well for fu­ture Cana­dian agri­cul­ture ex­ports, ac­cord­ing to Gor­don Houlden, di­rec­tor of the China In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Al­berta.

“As people get richer, their de­mand for protein in­creases. China can only pro­duce so much beef and pork and it’s not enough to sat­isfy the de­mand. Canada can cer­tainly step in and help to fill in the gaps when it comes to beef and pork,” Houlden told China Daily in an in­ter­view.

Ritz said the Chi­nese also are in­ter­ested in Canada’s agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy.

“The de­mand is there for both our prod­ucts and our tech­nol­ogy for in­creas­ing pro­duc­tion. Our dairy ge­net­ics pro­gram will help China meets its grow­ing de­mand,’’ he said. ``There was an agree­ment be­tween the Cana­dian Live­stock Ge­net­ics As­so­ci­a­tion and their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts that un­der­lines the broad level of sup­port from top Chi­nese dairy com­pa­nies for Cana­dian dairy ge­net­ics.”

To help meet China’s de­mand for healthy foods, Prairie Or­chard Farms of Win­nipeg closed a deal to help China pro­duce omega-three live­stock and poul­try, in­clud­ing about 5.6 bil­lion omega-three eggs a year, which will re­quire about C$200 mil­lion worth of Cana­dian feed.

Ritz and Changfu also re­newed co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the coun­tries in agri­cul­tural sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy.

“Agri­cul­ture Canada’s re­search fa­cil­i­ties have hosted over 300 Chi­nese re­searchers in­clud­ing nearly 200 doc­tor­ate stu­dents from China’s aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions. These folks head back to China and help to spread the word about the value of Cana­dian agri­cul­ture. We also have a tremen­dous Chi­nese com­mu­nity in Canada that helps us sell our prod­ucts and ser­vices in China,” Ritz said.

As for the fu­ture of China-Canada agri­cul­tural trade, Ritz ex­pects a lot more growth.

“Right now we pro­vide about 5 per­cent of China’s agri­cul­tural im­ports. With their grow­ing mid­dle class, I think we can eas­ily dou­ble or triple that amount. We need to get pre­pared for this by mak­ing sure we have the re­sources, land and the cat­tle and swine num­bers to meet this de­mand.”


Cana­dian Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Gerry Ritz (left) met with Chi­nese Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Han Changfu dur­ing his re­cent trade mis­sion to China.

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