A new trade deal with Jordan may open doors for Canadian food products in the Middle East.
“While the immediate trade gains don’t appear large, we feel there is strategic potential here,” said Richard Phillips, executive director of Grain Growers of Canada.
“Jordan acts as a trading and distribution hub in the Middle East with easy access to a number of other countries.
“A Canada-Jordan free trade deal will give us preferential access over competitors. No major competitors have this deal, and the U.S. is not a major exporter to Jordan at this time.”
Two-way trade totalled almost $89 million in 2011, with Canada importing some vegetables and shipping $70 million worth of goods to Jordan, notably chickpeas and other pulses, canary seed, dry beans, sunflower seed, wheat, barley, frozen french fries, animal feed and prepared foods.
Until now, Jordan has imposed agricultural tariffs as high as 30 per cent. But because the nation of six million isn’t self-sufficient in food, largely because of water shortages, “a trade deal therefore makes good sense,” said Phillips.
“When we export our agricultural goods, we are not displacing local produce or affecting local farmers,” he said.
The country is also a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a trade group that includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This group has a population of 40 million and would be a strategic target for a future deal, Phillips said.