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Alberta and Saskatchewan seek more export opportunities

A World Trade Organization (WTO) position which advances market access for the entire agriculture and agri-food industry across Canada is supported by the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. These provinces are urging the federal government to support this position.


May 30, 2008
By Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development; Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

May 28,
2008

EdmontonThe Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan continue to urge the federal
government and their provincial counterparts to support a World Trade
Organization (WTO) position that advances market access for the entire
agriculture and agri-food industry across
Canada.

“As a top exporting nation, it is
critical that
Canada pursues an ambitious agreement that
delivers a commercially meaningful outcome and substantially improves market
access,” said Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, George
Groeneveld. “We need to focus on developing a more supportive trade environment
that enhances the ability of our agriculture industry to be more competitive
and leads to its future growth and success.”

“An inflexible stance that
sacrifices opportunities for the majority of the agriculture industry would be
a grave mistake,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture, Bob Bjornerud.
“Our producers want increased trade opportunities. They know they can compete –
and succeed – in an open international market.”

Alberta and Saskatchewan remain opposed to Canada’s current negotiating position,
which does not take full advantage of the growth opportunities presented by a
WTO agreement. Both governments agree the new agriculture text released by the
WTO on
May 19, 2008 is an important step in bringing
the negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Ninety-two per cent of producers
across
Canada, and a substantial majority in
every province, are directly or indirectly dependent on export markets. Sales
of export dependent commodities account for $25 billion or nearly 80 per cent
of
Canada’s annual farm gate receipts.
Independent analysts have concluded that a strong WTO agreement on agriculture
could mean an increase of $3 billion in exports annually for
Canada’s agriculture and agri-food
industry.

Alberta and Saskatchewan commend Canada’s strong position on the reduction
of trade distorting domestic support and the elimination of all forms of export
subsidies. However, the two provinces and the majority of
Canada’s agriculture and agri-food
industry remain concerned that the interests of
Canada’s export-oriented industries are at
risk if
Canada does not take a more progressive
stance on opening trade relationships.

Failure
to achieve a substantial agreement on agriculture in a timely fashion could
have serious implications in other areas of the WTO negotiations, where
Canada
has significant interests. The agreement on agriculture is expected to set the
tone for other aspects of the WTO negotiations.