The Canadian federal government began three months of consultations about a potential free trade agreement with China that could benefit pork exports to China.

The Chinese market is Canada's second-largest single-nation trading partner, after the United States, and it is a growing market. Canada currently exports over 326,000 tonnes of pork and pork products to China each year with Canadian pork imports into China increasing by 144 percent (184,510 tonnes) in 2016.

Canadian government and pork trade with China

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced exploratory discussions in September 2016.

The Government of Canada is now looking for feedback from individuals, businesses, civil society organizations, labor unions, academics, indigenous groups and provincial and territorial governments. Consultations are open until June 2, 2017 and the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) will submit comments.

"Trade agreements have great importance to Canada's pork producers who work hard to develop a global reputation as a reliable supplier of safe, wholesome, high-quality pork," said CPC chair Rick Bergmann, in a press release. "With 70 percent of Canada's hog industry's output being exported, international market opportunities like China creates stable jobs across the country, attracts investments and contributes to growing the economy.

"Pork is a very popular meat in China and it is estimated that the average Chinese person consumes about 41 kilograms of pork per year," said Bergmann. "In comparison, Canadians eat approximately 22 kilograms per person."

Steps already taken by the CPC to build a strong relationship with China include Canadian Pork International opening an office in Shanghai and launching the Verified Canadian Pork brand in Beijing and Hong Kong in 2016. This year, the CPI will support member promotions to further develop the pork market in China.

Canadian Pork Council background

The CPC serves as the national voice for hog producers in Canada. It is a federation of nine provincial pork industry associations representing approximately 7,000 hog farms, producing 25.5 million animals a year and generating over CAD13 billion in economic activity.

The 31,000 farm jobs they create contribute to the total direct, indirect and induced CAD23.8 billion and 103,000 jobs across the country. The organization's purpose is to play a leadership role in achieving and maintaining a dynamic and prosperous Canadian pork sector.