Canada seeks full access to Saudi beef market

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Louis Levesque, Canada’s deputy minister of international trade, center, flanked by Richard Dubuc, Canadian commercial counselor, left, and Maher Doleh, second secretary, in Riyadh on Wednesday. (AN photo)

Arab News | 12 May 2010

Canada seeks full access to Saudi beef market

By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN

RIYADH: Canada, which lost millions of dollars in beef trade opportunities with Saudi Arabia following the outbreak of mad-cow disease, is now seeking full access to this lucrative Saudi market.

The ban was partially lifted a few months back, but the Saudi side only allowed imports of boneless beef products from Canada, a major beef exporting country that has put in place stringent BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) prevention and control measures.

This was disclosed by Luis Levesque, Canadian deputy minister of international trade, following his talks with senior Saudi officials, here Wednesday. Levesque gave an overview of the Saudi-Canadian commercial relation with special reference to bilateral trade ties. Richard Dubuc, Canadian commercial counselor; and Maher Doleh, second secretary, were also present.

The Canadian deputy minister was speaking after holding wide-ranging talks with Mohammed Al-Kanhal, chief of the Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA); Ahmed Badawi, assistant deputy minister for commerce and industry; Amr Al-Dabbagh, president of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA); and other senior Saudi and GCC officials. He said that the purpose of his visit was to set in motion the bilateral trade relation to a level of “win-win proposition” for both sides.

Referring to the beef exports to the Kingdom after his talks with SFD chief, he said that that Canada’s BSE prevention and control systems have been developed in accordance with the recommendations made by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Saudi Arabia was Canada’s sixth-largest market for exports of beef prior to a BSE-related ban imposed in 2003. The Canada Beef Export Federation estimates that full market access to Saudi Arabia would allow Canadian beef exporters to re-establish previous export levels worth nearly $6 million.

“We have taken very strong measures to check BSE as per OIE guidelines . . . and hence we are engaging in dialogue” said the deputy minister. “We are also working to boost trade relations in livestock sector with the GCC as a bloc,” said Levesque, while referring to the possibility of holding negotiations for free trade agreement and general investment protection accord with the Gulf states. Only Kuwait has signed a foreign investment treaty with Canada so far.

On G20 summit, he pointed out that the G20 Toronto Summit will be held on June 26-27. This meeting of major advanced and emerging economies, to be attended by the Kingdom, will help stabilize the global financial market, he added. The deputy trade minister also expressed strong hopes to boost cooperation in agriculture sector with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. The initiative in agriculture sector calls for building integrative partnership with Riyadh since Canada has high agricultural potential, he added.

source: Arab News