Farmers, Fishermen Needn't Fear Korea-Canada FTA

The free trade agreement between Korea and Canada will only have a limited impact on the traditionally vulnerable farming and fishery sectors.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Tuesday said imports of farm products and livestock from Canada stood at just US$817.55 million last year, less than half of those from Australia, which is also seeking an FTA with Korea.

In money terms, the main imports from Canada were pulp and conifers, which are already exempt from tariffs.

Among agricultural, fishery and livestock products, tariffs will remain the same for 211 items including rice, cheese and powdered milk, as against 16 in the Korea-U.S. FTA and 42 in the Korea-EU FTA, protecting a much greater chunk of domestic production.

Beef imports from Canada amounted to $10.9 million last year, a mere 0.6 percent of Korea's total. Australian beef ranked top with 55 percent, followed by beef from the U.S. with 34 percent and from New Zealand with 8 percent. The ministry does not expect the proportion to change much in the short term.

The biggest impact is likely to be on pig farms here as Canadian pork has a competitive edge. Last year, pork imports from the country stood at 43,398 tons, second only after the 112,000 tons from the U.S.

To cushion the impact, tariffs on Canadian pork will be phased out over up to 13 years.

As protection against a sudden surge in imports, the trade deal with Canada includes safeguard clauses for products like pork, beef, apples, pears, barley and red bean.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 12, 2014 12:32 KST