Mission to Asia, November 7 - 15, 2009

Subscribe to our free E-Newsletter, "Agri-News" (formerly RTW This Week)Agri-News
This Week
 Purpose of travel:
To promote the high quality attributes of Alberta agriculture and agri-food products, gain market insight, support Alberta industry presence at the Canada Food Expo, and advocate for enhanced market access for Canadian beef and beef products.

I am pleased to report on my recent mission to Japan and Hong Kong, two high priority markets for Alberta agri-food exporters. Maintaining and enhancing Alberta’s international industry and government relationships is important in support of a healthy trade environment. This mission provided unique opportunities to complement federal and industry efforts to promote Canadian agriculture and agri-food products and advance our trade interests in these markets.

A primary objective of the Japan component of this mission was to engage the new governing party of Japan, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), elected in August 2009. I would like to acknowledge the leadership of the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, who concurrently led a federal mission to Japan, and provided Alberta opportunities to intersect in some of their discussions with the new Japanese government. The coordination of federal, provincial, and industry presence in international markets brings the necessary profile to move our respective interests forward. Japan’s new government is aware that:
  • Canadian provinces, Alberta included, are safe and stable suppliers of high quality agricultural and agri-food products;
  • an unimpeded trade environment provides mutual business opportunities and advantages for both markets, and supports Japan’s food security requirements;
  • as a key stakeholder in the Canadian beef sector, the Government of Alberta strongly supports the efforts of the federal government to work with Japan to expeditiously enhance for Canadian beef and beef products.
In Japan, I was also able to support Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency Ltd. (ALMA) Board Members in their efforts to enhance international industry-to-industry relationships. I would like to acknowledge this valuable work that ALMA has undertaken and the fruitful discussions they held with Japanese meat industry leaders. These discussions, undertaken in coordination with Canadian industry, will translate into a better understanding of the Japanese marketplace and what is required to increase our presence there.

I am pleased to convey that the Alberta and Canada approach to age verification and livestock traceability continues to resonate in the Japanese market. Government officials also recognize the importance of the age verification and livestock traceability measures as providing greater animal health assurances. Japanese importers recognize the value of these product traits, which are marketable to consumers, and in some cases are being demanded. This mission confirms these enhanced animal health measures provide enhanced assurances to Japanese consumers, thereby influencing policy development and positioning Canada well for long-term success in this priority market.

On this mission, I also enjoyed supporting the efforts of Canadian and Alberta companies exhibiting their products at the Canada Food Expo in Tokyo and Osaka. Congratulations to the Canadian team that put on this world-class event. The Expo proved invaluable in heightening the profile of the participating Canadian agri-food companies, including Alberta exporters, who will benefit from the enhanced business prospects and better matchmaking opportunities gained through such a high level of exposure to Japanese importers. From my observations, the Japanese industry certainly noted our strong and united presence at the Expo which clearly conveys the importance and commitment Canada places on its business relationship with Japan.

The Kansai region of Japan, where the city of Osaka is located, is a large importer and distributor of Canadian agri-food products. My discussions during a roundtable meeting with importers from this region that confirmed regional engagement in Japan is an important way forward to facilitate increased trade.

Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, I was again able to complement federal and industry efforts concurrently underway in this market. This included meeting with Dr. York Chow, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food Health, to express appreciation for the positive progress on the January 16, 2009 agreement enhancing access to Hong Kong for Canada’s beef and beef products. It is important to continue to develop our close bilateral relationships with Hong Kong leaders who are setting an example in the region by basing trade policy decisions on sound science and international standards.

Along with Canadian industry and the federal government, Alberta co-sponsored a reception featuring Canadian beef and pork that was well attended by industry leaders. This was an opportunity to express appreciation and advocate for continued support in sourcing of agriculture and agri-food products from Canada and Alberta. I believe Canada’s consistent presence in the Hong Kong market will translate into increased trade. The high quality of Canadian beef and pork has been well established in the market. Importers, distributors and purveyors are enthusiastic and look forward to increased sales resulting from improved access conditions for beef.

Mission Objectives:
  • Promote the high quality attributes of Alberta agriculture and agri-food products.
  • Show support for Alberta exporters exhibiting products at the Canada Food Expo in Tokyo and Osaka.
  • Engage the new governing party of Japan, and complement the federal government’s trade advocacy efforts regarding beef.
  • Support ALMA initiatives underway in Japan.
  • Acknowledge and express appreciation for the progress in Hong Kong on enhanced beef market access for Canadian exporters.
  • Explore investment opportunities with select industry representatives.
  • In conjunction with the federal government, Alberta conveyed to the new leadership in Japan our agricultural interests and messaging.
  • Alberta strengthened relationships with Hong Kong government and industry leaders.
  • Alberta enhanced the profile of our agriculture sector and exporters in both Japan and Hong Kong.
  • Alberta gained insights into the Japanese marketplace which will translate into coordinated strategies to increase our presence in Japan.
  • United efforts in Hong Kong continue to bring about positive results respecting market access advocacy for Canadian beef.
Honourable George Groeneveld, Minister of ARD
Michael Norris, Executive Assistant, Office of the Minister
Share via AddThis.com
For more information about the content of this document, contact Annalisa Baer.
This document is maintained by Kelly Bernard.
This information published to the web on December 7, 2009.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 19, 2015.