Harper Government Strengthens Agricultural Ties with Serbia

Ottawa, Ontario, February 22, 2012 - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced today that Canada has signed a mutually beneficial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on agriculture with Serbia that will help facilitate exports and boost Canada's economy.

"Our Government's top priority remains the economy and by creating trade opportunities through memoranda of understanding with countries such as Serbia, we are helping create jobs and prosperity for Canadians," said Minister Ritz. "This MOU will foster long term cooperation between our two countries and demonstrate the strong and growing relationship Canada has with Serbia."

The MOU on agricultural co-operation has two main components which are effective immediately: an agreement on export of animal genetics to Serbia and an exchange of agricultural information, technology and products between the two countries.

Serbia has a keen interest in Canada's animal genetics because of their high performance and longevity. Canada's animal genetics are among the best in the world, and Serbia is looking to Canada to help increase the capacity of its dairy, swine and small ruminant sector. As a result of this MOU, Canada will also share best practices and help facilitate the exchange of agricultural information, technology and products.

"Canadian associations and companies are active in Serbia, and this MOU will help pave the way for further business and cooperation," said Minister Ritz. "Canada recognizes Serbian companies and farmers have a growing interest in our high-quality livestock technology and equipment, and where there is demand, we have supply."

The Canadian Livestock Genetics Association (CLGA) estimates that this new MoU could mean more than $6 million worth of additional exports for the industry by the end of 2013.

"This MOU provides an umbrella under which business can be done and will simplify and expedite the work of CLGA members and others with their Serbian partners. We are pleased to see it has been signed," said Rick McRonald, CLGA Executive Director.

Canadian associations and companies will be working directly with the Serbian Institute for Animal Husbandry to facilitate this MOU. Canada looks forward to the increased collaboration with Serbia in the field of agriculture.

This MOU signed earlier today in Serbia by Roman Waschuk, Canada's Ambassador to Serbia, on behalf of Minister Ritz, and Dusan Petrovic, Serbia's Minister of Agriculture, builds on additional cooperation between Serbia and Canada. In September 2011, the two countries agreed on export conditions for Canadian sheep and goats to Serbia. Conditions for live cattle, bovine semen and bovine embryos were previously agreed, and this MOU provides the framework under which expanded business can occur.

In 2011, Canadian agri-food exports to Serbia totalled more than $1.7 million and more than $7 million worth of Canadian livestock has been exported to Serbia since 2008.

For more information, media may contact:

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
613-773-7972
1-866-345-7972

Meagan Murdoch
Director of Communications
The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
613-773-1059

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