Government of Canada expanding agriculture trade with Morocco and the Middle East

Meknès, Morocco, April 26, 2012 - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz completed a successful trade mission to Morocco in which he discussed the mutual benefits of a Canada-Morocco free trade agreement (FTA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on agricultural co-operation and promoted Canada as a leading supplier of high-quality durum wheat, pulses and dairy genetics.

"Morocco is an important market for Canadian pulse and durum wheat growers and we are enhancing our trade relationship with the negotiation of an ambitious free trade agreement," said Minister Ritz. "The Moroccan agriculture and food market is growing and diversifying, offering new sales opportunities for Canadian farmers. An FTA with Morocco could also pave the way to greater Canadian commercial presence in the Middle East and North Africa."

While meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Agriculture Minister Aziz Akhannouch, Minister Ritz invited Moroccan officials to Canada in June for the next round of FTA negotiations. The ministers signed an MOU on agriculture co-operation that will foster stronger ties between the two countries by enhancing the exchange of knowledge, adding value to Canada and Morocco's co-operation and trade agenda, and offering a platform for Canadian business.

Agricultural products account for the vast majority of trade between Canada and Morocco. In 2011, Morocco's agriculture imports from Canada totalled more than $188 million, mainly in durum wheat and pulses. Canada is the top supplier of durum wheat to Morocco with nearly $175 million imported from Canada in 2011.

Minister Ritz was pleased that Canada has been recognized as the Country of Honour at the 2012 Salon International au Maroc (SIAM) - the biggest agriculture trade show in Africa - currently being held in Meknès. The Canada Pavilion and a conference on innovation are showcasing the excellence of Canada's agriculture sector, food products and technology while helping grow business co-operation and relationships between the two countries.

Committed to deepening Canada's economic ties with the Middle East, Minister Ritz will now continue his trade mission to Saudi Arabia. There he will work to advance market access issues related to beef and cattle.

"Canada's agriculture producers and processors depend on international markets for their sales. That's why our government continues to make international trade a priority," said Minister Ritz. "We know that when the farm gate is strong, Canada's economy is also strong".

In 2011, Canada's agricultural exports to Saudi Arabia, including fish products, totalled $304 million.

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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