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Opinion

How free trade agreements can boost the presence of Canadian agri-food products in the global market

Sylvanus Kawku Afesorgbor and Brendan McDougall present a novel way to look at the benefits of free trade deals to the Canadian agri-food sector by separating products into 'extensive' and 'intensive' margins.

Then-foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland speaks with reporters in Montreal on Jan, 29, 2018 after round six of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The new NAFTA, which received royal assent on March 13, 2020, has boosted trade in new product categories more so than other FTAs. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Canadian agriculture is increasingly dependent on foreign markets to drive demand growth. Agriculture continues to be a highly protected sector in international trade. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) aim to reduce these barriers through bilateral and multilateral negotiations giving Canadian agri-food exporters preferential trade access. These FTAs, however, do have a differential impact in promoting agri-food. Some FTAs foster innovation, business development and trade in new products. Other FTAs are more beneficial to existing exporters, helping them lower their trade costs, extract more profit and ship more volume. These differences in preferential trade access have important ramifications for diversification and future trade development of Canadian agri-food exports.

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