Like many Canadian agricultural commodities, canola is extremely dependent on export markets. Disease, GMOs and pesticide residues can all challenge market access.

“The entire impact of growing, processing, handling and marketing canola contributes $15.4 billion to the Canadian economy each year, and nearly all of this is dependent on market access,” said Patti Miller, President of the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) in launching the strategy. “It isn’t difficult to see why we must be diligent in keeping those international markets open.”

To address on-going market access challenges and strategies, the CCC released its comprehensive strategy for market access on February 25, 2013.  Market Access for the Future outlines a long-term global strategy for canola market access, with a vision for how the Canadian canola industry and government can best work together to keep markets open and negotiate new market opportunities.

The strategy addresses four priorities:
•    Elimination of tariffs that tax Canada’s canola exports and make them more expensive for importers. This will allow canola to compete fairly with other oilseeds and allow equal access for seed, oil, and meal. Eliminating tariffs is especially relevant for oil in Europe, seed and oil in China, oil in Japan, and oil in Korea.
•    Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations that are predictable and science-based. SPS market access priorities outlined in the strategy are access to the Chinese market uninhibited by the presence of blackleg, food safety regulations that assure health and safety while promoting access and facilitating trade, and aligning maximum residue levels for pesticides in key markets.
•    Biotech and new innovation regulations that are based in science and do not restrict market access. Important priorities are synchronous international approval of new biotech traits, joint recognition of risk assessments for new technologies, and effective policies to accommodate the growing risk and uncertainty linked to the low level presence of unapproved biotech traits.
•    International methodology to define sustainability so it can’t be used to bar market access. Canada fought to gain access to U.S. and E.U. biodiesel markets, however one part of the strategy is to monitor U.S. and E.U. policy development to ensure that the environmentally sustainable practices of the Canadian industry are recognized.

Building on past challenges

The Chinese put an emergency quarantine order in place on canola seed from Canada in 2009-10 in response to canola seed testing positive for blackleg. Exports to China dropped dramatically. The Canadian canola industry and government worked together to build understanding and implement measures to help open up the market. By 2012, more than 2.9 million tonnes of canola valued at $1.8 billion was exported to China.

The Chinese experience highlights the importance of industry and government cooperation. The report states that constant communication at multiple levels of government and a focused effort to coordinate research and share information are key elements of success. The strategy emphasizes that commitment from the Ministers of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and International Trade, senior leadership within the Market Access Secretariat, government representatives of canola growing provinces and officials within various departments, embassies and agencies have been, and will continue to be, instrumental in improving market access. Industry must similarly demonstrate its commitment to be an effective partner for government to accomplish mutual goals, according to the report.

The CCC’s Market Access for the Future strategy recognizes that trade situations can change quickly — and often with devastating results when industry and government are not prepared. “Market access is a job that is never completely done,” Miller says. “It takes ongoing commitment and diligence.”??

 “Market Access for the Future recognizes that we are most effective when we combine our respective strengths,” says Patti Miller, President of the Canola Council of Canada.

Patti Miller
President?Canola Council of Canada?

Email whetterj@canolacouncil.org to get a PDF copy of Market Access for the Future strategy paper.