“This trade agreement between Canada and Panama will give Canadian exporters and farmers greatly improved access to this market, and give Panama access to suppliers from Canada who will compete on the basis of price and quality, not market distorting tariffs,” says Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada and the Canadian Special Crops Association (CSCA).
Bacon adds the agreement has significant benefits for importers and consumers of pulses and special crops in Panama. Panama will gain competitive access from its largest suppliers of pulse products and the elimination of import duties will reduce food costs of these staple food products for people in Panama.
An agreement with Panama is especially significant because it already has an enabling food regulatory environment in place. Lindsay Bourré, Cigi Technical Specialist in pulses, went on her first Cigi pulse investigative mission with Rick Morgan, Manager of Business Development, to Panama last March at the request of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service. They gave a breakfast presentation to government representatives, port authorities, importers, and food companies, and PanCanada members. They were accompanied by four Canadian pulse and special crops industry representatives on the one-week visit.
“Panama’s trade policies represent the future direction of food safety regulation in that it has import policies that are risk-based rather than zero threshold”, says Gord Kurbis, Director of Market Access & Trade Policy with Pulse Canada. “For example, in cases where Panama does not yet have a specific food safety tolerance established, it applies OECD country tolerances rather than a default zero-tolerance. This is an important example of sound food safety policy that guarantees food safety to its consumers while also facilitating trade and growth for both countries. This approach needs to be brought into focus as a goal of all future FTA negotiations.”
In 2013, Canada exported 7,441 tonnes of pulses and special crops to Panama. Lentils from Canada typically comprise about half of Panama’s pulse imports.