Colombian ports reopened to Canadian cattle

The first South American country to take Canadian beef since 2003 will now accept Canadian cattle over 31 months of age.

The Canadian government confirmed Friday that Colombia has reopened its ports to imports of Canadian cattle born after Aug. 1, 2007.

“This is great news for our cattle industry, as we continue to work to ensure full access to important markets across the Americas,” International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan said in a release Friday.

“Improving access to international markets is extremely important for adding value to Canadian cattle,” Travis Toews, a Beaverlodge, Alta. rancher and the new president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said in the same release.

“We appreciate the tireless efforts of the government of Canada to promote Canadian cattle and eliminate barriers,” he said.

The Colombian market for Canadian beef exports is worth about $6 million, the Canada Beef Export Federation has estimated.

Canada in January completed the process to reopen the Colombian market to Canadian beef, following a deal with Colombia the previous September to work with Canada toward valid export certificates.

Live cattle and “selected beef cuts” are among the Canadian exports expected to benefit from “immediate duty-free access” under the proposed Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the government said Friday.

The FTA between the two countries was reintroduced last month in the House of Commons for implementation.

Other Canadian exports expected to see duty-free access as soon as the FTA is implemented include wheat, barley, lentils, peas, various paper products, machinery and equipment.

According to a report from the Manitoba Co-operator’s Ottawa contributor Alex Binkley, approval of the FTA in the Commons has so far been delayed by objections from the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, who say Canada is ignoring the Colombian government’s abuse of political opponents.

The government is expected to impose time allocation to bring an end to debate on the FTA, Binkley wrote in last Thursday’s Co-operator.

The opposition Liberals have agreed to support the bill in return for the Conservative government agreeing to present annual reports in Parliament from Colombia and Canada on the human rights impact of the deal in both countries, he wrote.

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