Canada plans "successful" signing of EU trade deal as part of investments to boost agri-food exports

Canada plans "successful" signing of EU trade deal as part of investments to boost agri-food exports

Canada plans to grow the country's agri-food exports "to at least" CAD75bn (US$56bn) annually by 2025, according to proposals announced in the federal budget.

Finance minister William Morneau said the "ambitious" proposals form part of a package of measures to support the agri-food sector under a national "innovation and skills plan".

"In recent years, industry growth has been strong, with farm revenues, annual exports and farm incomes all reaching record highs," Morneau said in the budget tabled in parliament on 22 March. "Despite this strong performance, there is still room for further growth – growth that can be achieved through innovation and the development of value-added products."

Morneau said proposed support for Canadian farmers and food processors would include launching a "full review of rail service across western Canada" and creating "a CAD10.1bn trade and transportation corridors initiative that will invest in gateways and ports, to help get agri-food products to market".

In addition, Morneau said the Canadian government planned to "successfully complete the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and make ongoing efforts to expand market access for Canadian agri-food producers throughout Asia".

Canada also plans to eliminate tariffs "on a broad range of agri-food processing ingredients, covering approximately CAD700m in annual imports, to strengthen the competitiveness of Canadian agri-food manufacturers at home and abroad", Morneau said.

A new "strategic innovation fund" will be created to "improve access to support for agri-food value-added processors", Morneau revealed. The government also intends to invest CAD500m "to support the expansion of broadband networks in rural Canada and CAD2bn to support rural infrastructure including roads and bridges, making it easier for Canada's agri-food producers to connect to markets in Canada and internationally", he added.

A proposed further CAD70m is set to be invested over six years, starting this year, to support agricultural discovery science and innovation, "with a focus on addressing emerging priorities, such as climate change and soil and water conservation", Morneau said.

According to Statistics Canada, the value of the country's agri-food exports amounted to CAD55.4bn in 2015, compared to CAD51.5bn a year earlier.