Canadian pork producers fear loss of Korea trade

Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:28am EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's pork producers could lose C$300 million ($295 million) a year in exports to South Korea unless Ottawa relaunches stalled talks on a free trade deal, the industry said on Thursday.

South Korea, which charges tariffs of up to 25 percent, takes 10 percent of Canada's pork exports. Major producers fear this will shrink when a free trade deal that Seoul has signed with the United States takes full effect in 2016.

"By 2016, the U.S. will have no duty on chilled and frozen pork (exports to South Korea) ... With this disadvantage our Korean business will be gone within two years," said Richard Davies of Olymel LP, which along with Maple Leaf Foods is one of Canada's top hog producers.

Talks on a Canada-South Korea free trade dealt have been frozen since 2008, in part because of restrictions Seoul places on the import of Canadian autos.

The offices of Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this year, another long-standing obstacle was removed when South Korea agreed in principle to reopen its market to Canadian beef. Seoul banned imports after mad cow disease was discovered in Canada in 2003.

Canada is the world's third-largest exporter of pork and beef.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)