Beef tariff disadvantage top of mind on trade mission to South Korea

Canadian Cattle Association president Nathan Phinney at the 2024 NCBA Cattle Convention in Orlando, Fla.

There’s no shortage of demand for Canadian beef in South Korea, but the country’s import tariff regime is making it difficult for Canadian beef to compete with meat from the U.S. and Australia, according to the president of the Canadian Cattle Association.

Nathan Phinney and other representatives from the CCA and Canada Beef were in South Korea last week, accompanying Canada’s Trade Minister, Mary Ng, on a trade mission.

“We met with some retailers and some restaurant chain owners, and they love our products. They love how Canadian beef is well-marbled, and the food safety that comes with it, but the biggest issue right now that we’re dealing with is when we signed our bilateral agreement some years ago, we’re at a very high tariff rate,” he explains in the interview below, upon arriving back home in Canada. “That’s eventually going to phase out over time, down to zero, but right now, the U.S. has an eight per cent tariff advantage over us, and Australia has right around five.”

The Canadian industry got a taste of what market access to South Korea could look like during the COVID pandemic, when import tariffs were dropped to zero for food security reasons, he says, noting Canadian shipments rose 165 per cent during that short period.

Acknowledging the bilateral trade agreement signed by the Canadian government in 2014 remains in place, Phinney says CCA will continue work on having import tariffs reduced to match the U.S. and level the playing field on exports to major Indo-Pacific market.

Just back from South Korea, Phinney and others with the CCA are re-packing their bags and headed to Hermosillo, Mexico for the annual meeting of the ConfederaciĆ³n Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, which represents 800,000 ranchers throughout Mexico. He says the meetings in Mexico will include tri-lateral discussions with the U.S. on American voluntary country-of-origin labeling and the upcoming review of the North American trade deal.

Watch/listen to Nathan Phinney’s update between trade missions to South Korea and Mexico with RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney:

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