Because Canada enjoys favourable conditions for food production that far exceeds the needs of our population, our agri-food sector is primarily export oriented. Canada is the fifth largest exporter of agricultural and agri-food products in the world after the EU, U.S., Brazil, and China. Canada exports $56 billion a year in agriculture and agri-food products and approximately half of everything we produce is exported as either primary commodities or processed food and beverage products. To illustrate this:
- We export half of our beef/cattle, 70% of our soybeans, 70% of our pork, 75% of our wheat, 90% of our canola and 95% of our pulses.
- Over 90 percent of Canada’s farmers are dependent on exports as well as about 40 percent of our food processing sector.
- 1 in 2 jobs in crop production depend on exports, and 1 in 4 jobs in food manufacturing.
- Export opportunities help us grow: over the last 10 years in Canada, agriculture and agri-food exports have grown by 77% to over $56 billion, boosting farm cash receipts by 46% over the same period.
Agriculture and food processing are key components of the Canadian economy and of Canada’s trade portfolio. Agriculture and food account for 11% of Canada’s goods GDP and almost 10% of Canada’s total merchandise trade. Food processing is by far the largest manufacturing employer in Canada supporting over 250,000 jobs across the country.
It is critical that Canada identifies new trade opportunities for our agri-food products to diversify, reduce reliance on existing markets and increase access to places where farmers and producers can get better value for their products. Free and fair trade is the top priority to ensure competitive access for Canadian agriculture and agri-food products throughout the world.
In the current environment of competitive trade liberalization, countries are competing with each other to be the first to secure free or at least preferential access to the world’s major markets.
Today, the success of our export market also depends on the timely negotiation and implementation of preferential trade access to the markets that our competitors are after.