Saskatchewan, Ontario send agriculture trade missions to Japan, S. Korea

Agriculture top of mind . . .

Premier of Saskatchewan Scott Moe is leading a provincial trade mission that departs today for Japan and South Korea. He will promote Saskatchewan’s agriculture and agri-food products and will be joined by executives from Saskatchewan-based potash and uranium companies, post-secondary institutions, and members of the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP). Premier Moe will also court investors during a stop in Hong Kong. Ontario is following Saskatchewan’s lead, mounting its own mission to Japan and South Korea from October 12-24. Provincial ministers will promote Ontario pork, beef, and soybeans, as well as its automotive and aerospace sectors.

Seeking alternatives to China . . .

Aside from Premier Moe’s stop in Hong Kong, both provinces are steering clear of China. This is likely due to the Canada-China bilateral impasse centred on the Meng Wanzhou extradition case, and the fact that two Canadians have been detained in China on dubious spying charges. It also suggests that Canadian producers are seeking alternative purchasers for farm and other products, as orders from China have largely dried up. Prior to the current chill in relations, Saskatchewan sent high-level missions to China four times since 2012 and one each to Japan and South Korea over the same period. Ontario’s Premier- or Minister-led missions to Asia since 2010 have also been heavily weighted towards China, with five missions since 2010, and only one each to Japan and South Korea.

Is there an Asian replacement for China’s purchasing power?

While some analysts believe it will be difficult for Canadians to find new buyers in Asia for its agricultural products, others suggest opportunities may emerge for Canadian firms to sell to countries whose traditional suppliers who are now selling to China. And, if there is no increase in the global supply of agricultural products that Canada produces, Canadian growers should be able to find markets for their farm products. Other provinces may be looking to Saskatchewan and Ontario to see if they succeed in finding replacements for the China market.