“In an incredible show of strength and resilience, our hardworking farmers and food businesses across Canada are expected to post another record year for agri-food exports, despite all the challenges that COVID-19 has thrown their way.
Indications are that Canada is on track to surpass our record last year of $67 billion in agriculture and agri-food exports, and that we are making significant progress towards our Government’s goal of $75 billion by 2025.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Government has taken immediate action to keep the supply chain strong. Our prompt actions have paid big dividends. Despite concerns about supply chain disruptions, at the beginning of the pandemic we put in place the necessary safety measures so that essential trade goods could cross our borders. And while there were also concerns about labour supply, efforts by the federal Government and others to defray the costs of worker quarantine periods helped us welcome around 85 percent of our migrant workforce compared to last year.
Right through the pandemic, our international customers turned to Canada more than ever as a trusted, steady supplier of high-quality food to meet their needs. To help our farmers and food businesses take advantage of exciting new market opportunities opening up around the world, our Government has implemented major trade agreements that give Canadian agri-food exporters access to key markets that represent two-thirds of the global economy. Today, about three-quarters of our agri-food trade is covered by one of our trade agreements.
While the pandemic has prevented our agri-food exporters from connecting with international buyers in-market, we have pivoted our programs to support online marketing initiatives. We launched a digital update of our Canada Brand. We also expanded the CanExport program to help businesses with digital marketing initiatives. Launched in 2019, CanExport is providing up to $75,000 to small and medium-sized businesses, including hundreds of small food businesses, for export marketing in international markets where they have little to no sales.
Trade diversification is another pillar of our strategy. To expand our customer base and open up new markets for our food products, we are pursuing an aggressive Export Diversification Strategy, backed by investments of over $1.1 billion, to help Canadian businesses explore new export opportunities. That includes a half dozen new agricultural trade commissioners deployed in markets around the world.
When our global customers see the Canada Brand, they know they are getting the best-quality goods, grown by farmers who are taking care of their land and animals, and backed by a food safety system that is the envy of the world. We never hesitate to share with our trade partners the sense of pride we feel about Canada’s hard-working producers.
Canadian farmers and food businesses play by the rules of international trade, and we continue to support the World Trade Organization in upholding a rules-based trading system and enforcing those rules. Since it was launched in 2018, the “Ottawa Group” has helped Canada lead on the world stage, alongside like-minded nations, to champion a predictable and transparent international trade environment. This is vital to our own COVID-19 recovery, and to global food security.
Together, we will continue to help Canadian farmers and food businesses to grow their exports and lead the sustainable relaunch of our economy.”
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau,
Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food