EU Trade Deal Yields Disappointing Results for Canadian Beef Producers 

Five years later, the implementation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union remains a profound disappointment for Canadian beef producers. 

Although CETA created quotas for nearly 65,000 tonnes of duty-free access for Canadian beef, unresolved technical barriers have prevented Canadian producers from taking anywhere close to full advantage, the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA) said in a release this week. 

Back in 2017, CCA estimated that when the CETA quotas were fully implemented, there would be potential to export $600 million of Canadian beef annually to the European Union. But in 2021, exports to the EU were just 1,450 tonnes valued at $23.7 million. Little improvement is expected for 2022. 

Meanwhile, the amount of beef coming the other way, from the EU to Canada, is much larger. In 2021, Europe exported 16,295 tonnes of beef worth $100 million to Canada. Indeed, for every pound of Canadian beef exported to Europe, Canada has imported 11. In 2022, that imbalance increased further, to a 17 to 1 ratio. 

“Our exports to Europe are minimal, a far cry from what we expected and certainly much less than the amount of beef Europe is sending to Canada,” said Reg Schellenberg, CCA President. 

According to the CCA, the main problem is that the EU does not recognize the Canadian food safety system as a whole. Instead, it imposes its individual requirements on Canada, with the result that when the two regulatory frameworks don’t completely align, Canadian processors have to re-work their operations for special Europe runs and then switch back to comply with Canadian requirements. The result is increased costs that largely make exporting beef to Europe not profitable. 

Regardless, Canadian beef producers have not given up on the trade deal. CCA representatives visited Brussels last week to discuss solutions to the current obstacles, and CCA has submitted scientific evidence on why the EU should recognize the efficacy of the Canadian food safety system.  

“Despite the disappointing results thus far, CCA remains resolved in unlocking trade potential in the EU,” Schellenberg said. 

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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