Enhancing Canada’s Technical Market Access Capabilities for Agriculture

This discussion document presents recommendations on how Canada’s technical market access capabilities can be enhanced to support continued growth in the volume and values of agricultural exports. The rationale for pursuing greater capabilities in this area include the fact that negotiations related to agricultural market access are often impacted by the unique and essential contribution of food products to the security and stability of any nation. Further, as agricultural tariffs are reduced there is a tendency in some markets to utilize technical barriers as a means of limiting imports. This reality supported the creation of the SPS Agreement during the Uruguay Round. Increasing technical barriers may also result from the growing global awareness of potential hazards to animal and human health which can motivate governments to put into place restrictions even when these concerns are largely a result of misperceptions by domestic consumers. It is also true that increased integration of global markets does warrant some additional safeguards which are appropriately reflected in SPS requirements for imported agricultural commodities.