India trade agreement to benefit Alberta producers
Agriculture: Little Bow MLA Ian Donovan applauds new agreements
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 06:00 am
New trade agreements signed between the Alberta and India governments last week are being hailed as a boon for the province’s agricultural producers.
India is already an important market for Alberta’s agriculture sector and it is Canada’s largest market for pulses (dry beans, chickpeas and lentils). India is the world’s largest consumer and importer of pulses.
Alberta Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson said the agreements, which target new opportunities to increase the sale of genetic materials, food products and machinery, will build on the trade relationships already existing and benefit the producers.
“I’m really pleased the premier was able to sign those agreements and I know that our industry people will be pleased,” he said. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by our industry, as well as our department over a period of years to get us to this point.”
Olson said benefits will not only be seen by farmers growing a range of different crops, such as canola producers, but also pork producers and equipment and irrigation infrastructure manufacturers.
He also said a committee will be created to look at opportunities for trade of agricultural products, and also to identify and remove barriers to trades.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford also signed agreements to increase oil and gas exports and she opened a trade office in New Delhi.
The country is already an important market for Alberta with an estimate of more than $102 million worth of goods and services exported from the province to India each year.
“This region of India has a population of more than 40 million — that’s more than Canada’s population — and it holds huge opportunities for Alberta agriculture producers,” said Redford. “In particular, this means Alberta’s innovative and efficient pork producers will have new and exciting opportunities in India.”
The Wildrose Party’s Agriculture critic is applauding the move to open the door to more exports of agricultural products to India.
“We’re an export province, any time we can open up some new borders and (write) a new memorandum of understanding – which the Province did with India – I think it’s nothing but a positive for agriculture,” said Little Bow MLA Ian Donovan.
He said India is a rapidly developing country with more than one billion mouths to feed, just the right market to target for Alberta agricultural producers.
“As an agricultural producer, I’m biased, I think we have hands down some of the best products in the world and we need to be able to open up those trade markets,” he said.
Donovan said beef products aren’t likely to be a big export to India, with the country’s majority Hindu population. However, he said there’s lots of opportunities to export pork, specialized food products, canola oil and commodities like beans, peas, lentils, and even dill and hemp.
“There are going to be other people who aren’t Hindu there that will be eating meat, but we have so many other products to offer in this province and any time you can open the door to a new trading partner and get the trust level built up between the two is key,” he said.
Donovan also said the agreements for energy and oil and gas will benefit the Province.
“We need to always have our markets open so that we have lots of different trading partners,” he said. “Oil, let’s not kid ourselves, is the big player in this province so we need to always make sure we have a market for our oil and gas products.”
Donovan said Alberta needs to do more to expand global markets and agreements, but the ones signed recently with India help to accomplish this goal.
“It’s like anything, you can get a better dollar for your product if you have two or three different people bidding for it rather than just going to one trade partner all the time,” he said.