Canada and the United States have pledged greater co-operation on reducing protectionist international trade barriers, says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
The two countries will set up “a high-level working group to advance a science-based approach to global agricultural trade,” Ritz said in a statement issued after a meeting with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Details on it and two other initiatives the ministers agreed on will be released later. They involve improving Canada- U. S. agricultural border flows and regulatory approaches and further strengthening their approach to food safety.
“Canada and the United States already exchange over $34 billion in agricultural products every year,” Ritz noted. “Working together, we can break down barriers overseas and expand the opportunities for Canadian and American farmers throughout the world.”
Vilsack said in the statement that he and Ritz focused on “steps to strengthen the robust and mutually beneficial agricultural trading relationship that exists between Canada and the United States. We agreed to establish a bilateral working group to examine ways we can collaborate and promote more free exchange of agricultural products between our countries, and in markets around the globe.
“The farmers and ranchers in the USA and Canada are among the most productive in the world, and they only benefit by reducing barriers to markets,” he added.
The trade group will look for ways “to promote science-based agricultural trade – including reducing trade barriers for genetically engineered products and other issues – to the shared benefit of both nations’ agricultural sectors.” The co-operation will include priority markets for beef and other high-value agriculture products.
The ministers also discussed the need to revitalize the rural economy of their countries, promote a strong renewable fuels sector on both sides of the border, and implement and strengthen organic equivalency standards and the Global Research Alliance.