Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea (centre) with representatives from Clearwater Seafoods Ltd., one of the Canadian companies that was part of a delegation to Seafood Expo North America, formerly the Boston Seafood Show. Pictured with Shea are Jeff Duffin, Greg Morency, Stefan Czapalay (chef) and Diana Dobrusevski.
By Tina Comeau
The country‚Äôs fisheries minister says trade agreements with the European Union and South Korea will help to boost both fish and seafood exports and the Canadian economy.
Gail Shea made these comments during a conference call with media while attending Seafood Expo North America, formerly known as the International Boston Seafood Show.
Shea was at the expo with a delegation made up of Canadian seafood industry companies and organizations.
‚ÄúThe show has been an outstanding success,‚ÄĚ Shea said. ‚ÄúIt has been an excellent opportunity to showcase our Canadian products and network with buyers from around the globe.‚ÄĚ
Shea noted that the government is working hard to build on existing fish and seafood markets, pointing out that globally Canada‚Äôs fish and seafood exports were worth more than $4.42 billion in 2013 and represent one of the largest food commodities exported by this country.
The minister said the week prior to the expo in Boston, Canada and the Republic of Korea had concluded negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement.
‚ÄúThis free trade agreement is Canada‚Äôs first with an Asian market,‚ÄĚ said Shea, pointing out Canadian exports will be able to tap into an Asian country with a population of over 50 million people.
The agreement will significantly boost trade between the two countries, eliminating all of South Korea‚Äôs average tariffs of 16.5 per cent in the fisheries sector. Some tariffs have even spiked as high as 47 per cent on fish and seafood products.
‚ÄúSo there is a significant opportunity for Canadian companies,‚ÄĚ Shea said. ‚ÄúThe agreement is projected to increase exports by 32 per cent and boost the Canadian economy by $1.7 billion annually.‚ÄĚ
This recently reached trade agreement is in addition to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union that was announced last year. When that agreement eventually comes into force almost 96 per cent of all EU tariffs on Canadian fish and seafood products will be eliminated, with the remaining four per cent to be eliminated by the 7th year of the agreement.
‚ÄúIt will give industry preferential access to EU‚Äôs 500 million consumers and their $17 trillion in annual economic activity,‚ÄĚ Shea said. ‚ÄúThis is a huge opportunity for Canada‚Äôs fish and seafood sector because it opens doors to what is a very lucrative market.‚ÄĚ
According to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada exported fish and seafood products to 123 countries last year, representing $4.42 billion in business. Approximately 63 percent of those exports were destined for the United States at a value of $2.8 billion.
The People‚Äôs Republic of China and the European Union are significant markets, importing more than $454 million and $372 million worth of Canadian fish and seafood products respectively in 2013.
Canada‚Äôs largest exports by value were lobster, snow/queen crab, farmed Atlantic salmon, and shrimp.
Shea noted that while Canada will continue to seek out new market opportunities for seafood exports, it will continue to nurture its long-standing trade relationship with the United States. The expo in Boston, she said, presented the opportunity to network with potential buyers from a ‚Äúhuge American market.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIn speaking to attendees at the exhibition it‚Äôs clear that Canada has a reputation for producing high quality seafood that is sought around the world,‚ÄĚ said Shea. ‚ÄúSo working together we are going to ensure that Canada continues to be a world leader in the production of safe, nutritious and sustainable seafood products. There is certainly a lot of optimism about this industry here in Boston.‚ÄĚ
The expo in Boston was to wrap up on March 18.