Pig producers in Australia, New Zealand and the United States have warned Canada it will be challenged over its pork subsidization program in the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, according to an online report from Global Meat News

Canada is participating in the trade talks, which are taking place in Auckland, New Zealand Dec. 3-12, for the first time since joining the TPP. In a joint statement, Australian Pork Limited (APL), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and New Zealand Pork said the country would face“tough questions” over its domestic pork subsidies from their respective governments.

APL CEO Andrew Spencer said: “Australian pork producers, along with our counterparts in New Zealand and the United States, opposed the entry of Canada to the TPP back in June, based on their continued heavy use of subsidies to their domestic pork industry.

“By benefiting from substantial government subsidy programs, Canadian pork producers enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over hard-working Australian pork producers, who operate in a subsidy-free environment. This continued action by the Canadian government is, in Australian pork producers’ eyes, diametrically opposed to the goals and long term objectives the TPP group is striving to achieve. It is on these grounds that Australian pork producers seriously question Canada’s genuine commitment to the goals of the TPP.”

NPPC President R.C. Hunt added: “In reality, we cannot compete on a level playing field. In the upcoming TPP round, you can bet your bottom dollar we will be putting pressure on Canada to do something about its pork subsidy programs.”

According to New Zealand Pork CEO Owen Symmans, members of Canada’s own government have questioned its policy of subsidizing pig farmers.“I am aware that Canada’s own federal minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz has specifically refused to endorse the Ontario Risk Management Program (RMP), which is one of a number of Canadian subsidy programs,” he said.

“Minister Ritz denounced the RMP as ‘completely countervailable’ in comments to the Canadian House of Commons. Surely, this is clear evidence that Canada’s tolerance for domestic subsidies for its pork industry is hypocritical and contrary to its participation in a free trade agreement like the TPP.”

The groups said that they would be supporting their governments’ efforts to remove “trade-distorting barriers” and establish a true free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trading Partners

Canada and Mexico joined Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam in the TPP last October. The partnership of 11 countries now has a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $20.5 trillion, which represents nearly 30% of global GDP.

Speaking ahead of the talks in Auckland, Canadian minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway Ed Fast said: “Latin America and Asia include some of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

Joining our largest trading partners – the United States and Mexico – in the TPP will strengthen trade and investment ties and supply chains between the Americas and Asia and create new opportunities for Canadian exporters seeking to expand into new markets or enhance their presence in existing markets.”