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Pulse industry encourages Parliament to ratify free trade agreements

Free trade agreements with Peru and Coumbia are being touted by Pulse Canada as a means of better-securing markets for pulse growers in this country, and meeting the needs of pulse buyers in the two South American countries.  


May 22, 2009
By Pulse Canada

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May 22, 2009
 
Winnipeg, Manitoba –The Canadian pulse industry and pulse buyers in Peru and Colombia are eagerly awaiting the Canadian Parliament in its progress in ratifying free trade agreements with those countries.  This week, representatives of Pulse Canada accompanied Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz on a trade mission to Peru and Colombia, where trade agreements have been negotiated but need parliamentary approval.

“Free trade agreements with Peru and Colombia will help keep Canadian pulses competitive in these markets and open new opportunities for us,” said Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada, while traveling with the Minister.  “Both pulse importers and Canadian pulse exporters are supportive of immediate approval of these trade agreements.”  Colombia is Canada’s seventh largest market for pulses and special crops, with exports totaling $80 million and 102,000 tonnes in 2008.  Colombia is one of Canada’s top two markets for green lentils, amounting to $46 million in 2008.  A pending US–Colombia trade agreement, which eliminates tariffs for US peas, lentils, chickpeas, canary seed and mustard seed, will mean a 15 percent or approximately $150-per-tonne tariff disadvantage for Canadian lentils.  Canada’s agreement with Colombia would create a tariff advantage, if implemented before the US agreement. It would also provide tariff-free access for 4000 tonnes of Canadian beans per year compared to the current 60 percent tariff.   Peru is also a significant and growing market for Canadian pulses and special crops.  Canadian exports to Peru totaled nearly $19 million in 2008.  However, Canadian peas and lentils could face as much as a 25 percent tariff disadvantage, while Canadian canary seed faces a 12 percent disadvantage.  The US–Peru free trade agreement became effective February 1, 2009.  Peruvian importers say the tariff disadvantage will be particularly problematic if the Canadian agreement is not implemented before the 2009 harvest.  “Parliamentary ratification of these agreements will maintain our market access,” said Bacon.  “There are great opportunities in both Peru and Colombia and we need to know if Canada will have competitive access for the 2009 pulse crop.” 

Pulse importers in Peru and Colombia have shown tremendous support for Canadian free trade agreements.  Pulse buyers recognize the quality of Canadian product and want to retain competitive access. Colombian importers recognize the growth opportunities that a Canada-Colombia agreement presents for peas for human consumption and animal feed. Flour millers have shown interest in pulses as a value-added ingredient.   Eliminating import duties will also reduce food costs, which is particularly important given that pulses are a staple consumed by some of the poorest segments of the population.