U.S.-China trade war provides opportunities for Canada

Alberta Beef Industry Conference gets market updates

U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has produced casualties — but Canada isn’t one of them.

Canadian commodity exports to China have jumped about 60 per cent over the last two years, said Brett House, Scotiabank vice-president and deputy chief economist.

“Canada has seen a huge boom in the U.S.China trade war,” House told about 650 attending the Alberta Beef Industry Conference at Sheraton Red Deer Hotel on Thursday morning.

By comparison, U.S. exports across almost every commodity sector have dropped since the U.S. and China engaged in tit-for-tat tariff salvoes.

“So far, as you can see, who’s winning from the U.S. China trade war? It’s certainly not the U.S. — and it’s unlikely to be.”

House said while China’s recent decision to bar canola exports from a major Canadian supplier has the potential to whittle away at the country’s gains, this nation remains in a good trade position internationally.

Canada is the only G-7 nation to have free trade agreements with the other six countries in that small club.

“I think that puts us in a great position to realize gains from trade going forward.”

Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen said the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, which is meant to replace the North America Free Trade Agreement,

is not expected to have much impact on Alberta’s beef industry.

While the renegotiated trade agreement did not provide gains, there were no losses on the beef front either.

The trade imbroglio has many agriculture producers considering opportunities.

“They want to see how they fit in as far as the industry is concerned,” said Dreeshen, who attended most of the three-day conference and is deputy shadow minister for agriculture and agri-food.

“There is a lot of opportunity to expand into those markets but there are still some concerns that exist because China’s economy is starting to falter at this point in time.

“So there’s nervousness there.

“In general, people are looking optimistic on the beef side because they know Canada has a great product.”

CanFax manager Brian Perillat said beef producers were having a great year in 2018 but have slipped a little since and the Canadian herd has dropped about one per cent to 3.66 million head.

“We’re kind of into more of a shrinking herd phase, which is a bit unfortunate,” said Perillat, whose organization is a division of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and provides market analysis.

In 2018, Alberta had one of the best beef markets in North America but has since prices discounted against the U.S. market, he said.

“That’s a little bit of a disappointment that our prices have weakened that much more relative to the U.S.”

Overall, markets have not been too bad this spring and beef producers are hoping to see some bounce back as the year progresses.


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