Pork, potash producers praise Trans-Pacific Partnership 

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Pork and potash will benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to groups representing those industries.

A Thunder Creek Pork Inc. employee waits beside a conveyor belt as portions of pork slide by. Times-Herald file photo

This is especially important for Moose Jaw because some of its larger employers – like Mosaic Potash Belle Plaine and the Thunder Creek Pork Plant – are members of those industries.

Last Thursday, the federal government announced that it had signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The deal lowers tariffs among many products distributed amongst 12 countries, including in China, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the U.S.

The move also has other aspects that have garnered criticism.

“A far greater part of the text — thousands of pages in more than 30 chapters — has to do with harmonizing regulations (financial, health and safety standards, etc.), reinforcing intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights), opening up new sectors to privatization and foreign investment (health insurance and education), and putting strict limits on how governments choose to protect the environment or create jobs,” wrote the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “In almost every case, participant countries will be required to adopt the preferences of powerful U.S. corporate lobbies.”

But strictly when it comes to pork and potash, it seems that there will be benefits.

“Any type of trade deal that opens markets to get pork into different markets is positive for the industry,” said Mark Ferguson, Manager of industry and policy analysis for SaskPork, a trade group for pork producers. “It’s going to be a few years down the road before the benefits…it’ll be a good agreement for Thunder Creek and Moose Jaw.”

Ferguson said had Canada opted out of the TPP it could have lost to others that had signed on, such as the U.S. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China are big consumers of pork, he explained.

Saskatchewan mines should be globally competitive with any new or existing producers when the market strengthens.” Pam Schwann, Saskatchewan Mining Association

The Saskatchewan Mining Association, which represents mining industries, including potash, was also supportive of the decision to sign the TPP.

“Saskatchewan mineral exports were around $7 billion in 2014, so agreements such as the TPP that promote trade and access to markets are positive for the industry,” wrote Pam Schwann, a spokeswoman for the association. “Of the countries involved in the TPP, Malaysia likely represents the most significant market opportunity for potash… Increased markets should translate to increased demand and Saskatchewan mines have the ability to increase production to meet new demand, translating to more employment for Saskatchewan residents, business opportunities for Saskatchewan mining suppliers and royalties and taxes for the province.”

Schwann was positive when asked about the possibility that Canada would face new competition from overseas who might be able to produce potash with reduced tariffs.

“The cost to start up a potash mine is significant  - as we have seen in the province, a greenfield (new) two million-tonne a year potash mine will cost in excess of $3.5 billion,” she wrote. “Saskatchewan mines have invested over $15 billion in the past eight years in adding capacity, so Saskatchewan mines should be globally competitive with any new or existing producers when the market strengthens.”

Organizations: Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canadian Centre, U.S. Countries Saskatchewan Mining Association

Geographic location: Canada, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan China Japan U.S. Australia Thunder Creek South Korea Malaysia

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