|By Marketwired .||
|May 21, 2014 11:32 AM EDT||
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO -- (Marketwired) -- 05/21/14 -- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has concluded a successful visit to Mexico, where he and his two counterparts, Mexican Agriculture Secretary Enrique Martinez, and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, gathered together for the first time.
To mark the North American Free Trade Agreement's (NAFTA) 20th anniversary, Minister Ritz joined Secretaries Vilsack and Martinez to discuss the vast benefits the Agreement has created for the North American agriculture industry at a panel discussion with the three agriculture leaders.
During the NAFTA panel, Minister Ritz stressed the importance of fair and science-based decisions to facilitate trade within the NAFTA region. Minister Ritz later reinforced the same message during bilateral discussions with U.S. Secretary Vilsack and Mexican Secretary Martinez.
During his meeting with Secretary Vilsack, Minister Ritz raised various issues of interest to Canada, including the importance of the U.S. ending the discrimination against Canadian cattle and hogs under mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). In his bilateral meeting with Secretary Martinez, Minister Ritz stressed the need for a resolution of market access for Canadian beef from animals over thirty months in accordance with science-based rules.
Minister Ritz also travelled from Mexico City to Zacatecas, Mexico, for the Mexican Cattle Association's Annual Convention, which provided him the opportunity to reinforce Canada's position on U.S. mandatory COOL with key industry leaders and express the need for cattle industries within the NAFTA region to work together to address this important issue.
-- Since NAFTA came into force in 1994, the North American economy has more than doubled and agricultural trade has more than quadrupled. -- NAFTA has had a significantly positive impact on the competiveness of the North American agriculture industry. Today, the U.S. remains Canada's top customer of our agricultural products with Canadian agriculture exports to the U.S. totalling $26.1 billion in 2013, while Mexico is our fifth-largest buyer, with $1.6 billion in Canadian agricultural products exported to the market in the same year. -- Canada remains committed to NAFTA and further strengthening agriculture trade ties with both the U.S. and Mexico, and we will continue to work with both countries on agricultural areas of interest.
"The signing of NAFTA 20 years ago has led to a more competitive and integrated North American agriculture industry," said Minister Ritz. "This visit to Mexico provided a unique opportunity for myself, U.S. Secretary Vilsack and Mexican Secretary Martinez to come together to reaffirm our continued commitment to promoting a fair, open and integrated North American market that will continue to keep our industries strong."
- Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz
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Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada