Market Access

Re-opening, maintaining and expanding market access for Canadian cattle, beef and beef products is an important piece to improving competitiveness. The CCA supports the Government of Canada in the areas of negotiating free trade agreements and efforts to create predictable and level trading environments with key markets. Market access also involves working to overcome trade restrictive measures and trade obstacles, while promoting science-based approaches.

Here is the latest on the priority market access and trade files the CCA is working on:

Producers and feedlot operators must meet specific production requirements for cattle used to produce beef for export to the European Union (EU). These components are part of the Canadian Program for Certifying Freedom from Growth Enhancing Products (GEPs) for Export of Beef to the EU. Beef from cattle produced under the program is currently being shipped to the EU and once the Canada-EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) comes into force there will be significantly greater market opportunities. The EU is Canada’s second largest trade and investment partner with a population of 500 million people and economic activity of about $17 trillion. The EU provides an important opportunity for Canada’s beef cattle producers.

Read the protocols for cow-calf operators here and feedlot producers here. Please click here for the French cow-calf operators PDF and here for the French feedlot producers PDF. Translations provided by the Fédération des producteurs de bovins du Québec. 

In September 2013, the Government of Canada and the European Union announced an agreement in principle for a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). In October 2013, Prime Minister Stephen Harper tabled in the House of Commons a technical summary of the final negotiated outcomes the CETA. The tabled document can be found here.

The CETA provides new duty-free access for 64,950 tonnes of Canadian beef valued at nearly $600 million. Of this, 50,000 tonnes, consisting of 35,000 tonnes of fresh/chilled beef and 15,000 tonnes of frozen beef, are reserved for Canada. In addition, Canada will see the 20 per cent duty on the existing 14,950 tonne Hilton quota shared with the U.S. reduced immediately to zero. Canada will also continue to have access to the existing shared duty free quota for high quality grain-fed beef.

The removal of longstanding barriers in this agreement, such as high tariffs, finally enables Canadian beef producers to benefit from the high value that the European beef market represents. The CCA will continue to work with the Government of Canada to resolve the few remaining technical barriers with the EU.

The CCA has been working on the CETA from the outset of negotiations in 2009, engaging with the Canadian negotiating team and conducting advocacy with key EU and Member State officials and industry representatives. CCA representatives attended numerous negotiating rounds in Brussels and Ottawa and met regularly with the Canadian negotiators of CETA to ensure they clearly understood the needs of Canada’s beef sector.

On December 18, 2015, the U.S. repealed mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation for beef and pork. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided notification the same day that they will no longer enforce COOL for beef and pork, marking a successful conclusion to the COOL file. Earlier in 2015, in a historic and decisive victory for Canada’s cattle industry, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 18 issued a fourth and final ruling confirming that U.S. COOL discriminates against U.S. imports of Canadian cattle and hogs. The ruling effectively ended the eight-year legal battle initiated by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) in 2007 challenging the U.S. labeling law for violating the U.S.’s international trade obligations.

On December 7, 2015,  the WTO Arbitration Panel released its decision on a retaliation amount of more than US$1 billion for Canada and Mexico combined. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Minister Lawrence MacAulay and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland moved quickly to announce their intention to impose retaliatory tariffs, a permission granted to Canada by the WTO. The Mexican Government did likewise. The CCA was immediately in Washington D.C. to ensure that legislators there were fully aware of these developments and understanding that nothing short of repeal could avert the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports. This message was heard loud and clear.

The CCA is satisfied that the December 18 legislative action to repeal COOL accompanied with the USDA notification the same day should eliminate the need to segregate imported cattle in the U.S. However, Canada must retain its retaliatory rights as insurance against the possibility that the U.S. might at some future time implement a renewed discriminatory program.

The CCA applauds the Government of Canada’s efforts on this file including a strong legal performance in Geneva, diplomatic representations in the U.S. and Mexico and an unwavering commitment to target U.S. exports for retaliatory tariffs should the U.S. have failed to repeal COOL.

South Korea
The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) entered into force on January 1, 2015. Without the CKFTA, Canadian beef would continue paying a 40 per cent tariff when imported into Korea. On January 1, 2016, the Korean tariff on Canadian beef dropped to 34.7 per cent with the second of 15 annual tariff cuts. On offals, the tariff prior to the CKFTA was 18 per cent and will drop to 14.7 per cent in 2016. The U.S. is three years and 8 per cent ahead of Canada on its beef phaseout with Korea and Australia is one year and 2.7 per cent ahead of us. The CCA believes that acceleration of Korea’s beef tariff phaseout to match the U.S.’ access should be another condition of Korea’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

South Korea holds huge potential for beef and especially cuts and offals that are underutilized here at home. Korea is a market that will pay more for those select items and that helps to increase the overall value of the animal for producers.

Exports to South Korea were 1 per cent of Canadian beef exports in 2014 -- or 3,200 tonnes for $25.8 million, making it the sixth largest export destination by volume. With the implementation of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement in late 2014, the CCA believes Canadian beef exports to Korea have the potential to exceed $50 million per year.

On March 10, 2014 then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada and the Republic of Korea have reached a free trade agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, the 40 per cent Korean tariff on fresh and frozen beef will be fully eliminated in 15 equal annual steps and the 18 per cent tariff on offals will be fully eliminated in 11 equal annual steps. The text of the final agreement of the CKFTA was tabled in the House of Commons by International Trade Minister Ed Fast in June 2014.

The tariff had been the main impediment to accessing the Korean market since Korea lifted its BSE prohibition on Canada in early 2012. For the past few years, Canada’s key beef competitor, the U.S. has enjoyed an increasing tariff advantage flowing from its FTA with South Korea. The Canada-Korea FTA means Canadian beef will be able to once again compete for meaningful access in the Korean market.

The impact of the tariff disadvantage is clear. In 2002, Korea was a $40 million market for Canadian beef and its fourth largest export destination. In 2013, with a growing tariff disadvantage relative to U.S. beef, Canada exported $7.8 million.

For the first six weeks of 2015, Canada experienced strong beef exports to Korea. However, Korea was then closed to Canadian beef for the rest of 2015 as a result of a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) case in Alberta in mid-February. Korea lifted its temporary suspensions on December 30, 2015 and Canadian beef and products can once again flow to this important market.


Canadian beef has gained meaningful access to Japan and the Asian market through agreements like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP came into force on December 30, 2018 for the initial six CPTPP signatories of Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Vietnam implemented the CPTPP on January 14, 2019, bringing initial reductions in import duty rates for beef from CPTPP member countries including Canada.

Under the CPTPP, on Dec. 30, 2018, the Japanese tariff of 38.5 per cent dropped to 27.5 per cent on Canadian fresh beef and to 26.9 per cent on frozen beef. On April 1, 2019 Canada enjoyed a second cut in Japan down to 26.6 per cent on both fresh and frozen which will eventually lower down to 9 per cent over several years. With CPTPP, Canadian beef will also be exempt from the Japanese safeguard tariff of 50 per cent on frozen beef.

The agreement has prompted growth in exports of Canadian beef to Japan, as expected. Vietnam is an emerging market with important growth potential for Canadian beef. In 2017, Canadian beef exports to Vietnam were $3.9 million with a 20 per cent tariff. Given beef from CPTPP signatories Australia and New Zealand already enjoy duty free access to Vietnam under existing trade agreements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) anticipates that Canada and Mexico will benefit most from the tariff reductions.

The CCA encourages the exploration of expansion of CPTPP for Korea and other diverse markets in Asia-Pacific. Expanding trade with China would include priorities such as; eliminating the 12 per cent import tariff for Canadian beef cuts, obtaining access for over thirty-month (OTM) beef and offal, and obtaining comprehensive approval of Canada’s meat inspection system. Further expanding the market access for Canadian beef offal into the Asian market would add significant value to Canadian beef trade.