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At The Table With: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

1 August 2019 by Food&HotelAsia


One of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with Singapore after independence, Canada has become an important regional partner with both enjoying a strong bilateral relationship, and cooperation in trade, education, science and technology, and other areas. Signatories of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the two countries, together with Australia and New Zealand, were invited by the Pacific Alliance – Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, to become candidate Associated States in the agreement. This involved the negotiation of a comprehensive FTA with the Pacific Alliance as a bloc.

We caught up with the Agricultural and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), organiser of the Canadian pavilion at FHA-Food & Beverage to find out more about the CPTPP and the role AAFC plays in connecting Canadian companies with businesses in Asia.

Can you explain, in a nutshell, what is CPTPP?

A cornerstone of Canada’s trade diversification strategy, the CPTPP is an ambitious and high-standard free trade agreement that will help strengthen the rules-based international trading system. Seven countries have ratified the agreement, including Singapore, and 86 per cent of tariff lines of CPTPP countries have become duty-free. Once fully implemented, 94% of tariff lines will be duty-free, covering 99 per cent of Canada’s current exports to CPTPP markets.

How does CPTPP benefit Canadian and Asian businesses in the food & hospitality sector?

The CPTPP is a great opportunity for the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector, as it delivers increased market access for Canadian exporters to the Asia-Pacific region. The CPTPP provides consumers in the region with more access to a range of high quality Canadian products, including meat, grains, pulses, maple syrup, wines and spirits, and processed food.

What is the growth rate of trade between Canada & Singapore, and Canada & Asia over the last five years?

There has been tremendous growth over the past five years in terms agri-food and seafood trade between Canada and Asia. Between 2014-2018, Canadian exports increased by 50 per cent. In 2018, Canada exported over CDN$18 billion worth of agri-food and seafood products to Asia. Singapore continues to be an important market for Canadian exporters and the CPTPP represents a significant step toward closer trade and investment between the two countries.    

How much is trade projected to grow between Canada & Singapore, and Canada & Asia with the CPTPP in force?

As a trading nation, our goal is to secure more opportunities for Canadian exporters to compete and succeed in thriving and fast growing global markets. Agreements like the CPTPP are helping us achieve just that, and we’re already seeing results. In the first three months CPTPP was in force, Canadian agri-food, fish and seafood exports to CPTPP countries increased 3.6 per cent over the same period in 2018. In terms of trade with Singapore, those same exports increased 33 per cent over the same period. What does this mean for export growth in Asia-Pacific markets? The sky is the limit.

Can you tell us more about Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s role at FHA?

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) selected FHA as one of its flagship shows because of the event’s importance in Southeast Asia. AAFC ensures that innovative, export-focused Canadian companies have a world class pavilion to exhibit their products to the magnitude of buyers at this show.

How do you begin the process of looking for exhibitors?

With shows like FHA, there is huge interest in attending.  Many companies approach us to attend which makes our job much easier. We also approach companies we believe are ready to export and have products that are in demand in the host market. 

Does AAFC look for new exhibitors each time?

Bringing new companies to international shows is a core part of our mandate. Shows like FHA are a huge opportunity, and we are looking to expose as many Canadian companies as possible to the event.

What happens after the event ends? Does the job end there?

The simple answer is that the job is never done.  We start work immediately on the next edition, securing space, and contacting new companies who are interested in participating.  Additionally, we work with our embassy staff to ensure leads collected on-site can be qualified, helping turn those initial discussions into sales.

The AAFC will be bringing Canadian businesses to FHA-Food & Beverage from 31 March – 3 April 2020 at the Singapore Expo. Follow FHA official socials for latest exhibition updates! #FHA #CdnAg