Canada and Saudi Arabia Agree to Reopen Beef Market

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, February 17, 2009 – Canadian
beef exporters will have access to the lucrative Saudi Arabian market
for the first time since 2003. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz made the
announcement today following his meeting with Saudi Arabian Minister of
Commerce and Industry Abdullah Bin Ahmed Zeinal Alireza in Riyadh.

“Step by step this Government is reopening markets to Canadian
beef producers,” said Minister Ritz. “Canadian producers want to make
their living in the marketplace and we’re leveling the playing field to
give the industry the opportunities it needs to be stable and

Saudi Arabia was Canada’s sixth largest market for exports of
beef prior to a BSE-related ban imposed in 2003. Today’s agreement
reopens the Saudi Arabian market to Canadian boneless beef exports from
animals under thirty months of age. Canada and Saudi Arabia agreed to
continue extensive negotiations with the goal of fully reopening access
for Canadian beef exports.

The Canada Beef Export Federation estimates that full market
access to Saudi Arabia would allow Canadian beef exporters to
re-establish previous export levels worth nearly $6 million.

Minister Ritz was in Saudi Arabia as part of a Middle East
mission to create and expand new marketing opportunities for Canadian
producers. During his visit to Riyadh, Minister Ritz met key importers
and Saudi government ministers. Minister Ritz and his counterpart
Agriculture Minister H.E. Dr. Fahd Bin Abdulrahman Balghunaim directed
officials to resolve market access issues.

Today’s announcement follows an agreement that gives Canadian beef
exporters full access to the Jordanian market. When visiting the
country’s capital of Amman this week, Minister Ritz will thank the
Jordanian Government for reopening its market to Canadian beef and
reiterate Canada’s commitment to working with Jordan on the
implementation of the Free Trade Agreement.

The Canada Beef Export Federation estimates that the value of Canadian
beef exports to Jordan could rise to as much as $1 million annually.

Minister Ritz will also travel to the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) next week where he will attend the Gulfood Show in Dubai. Gulfood
is the largest food industry exhibition in the Middle East where
Canadian exporters connect with Middle East buyers. He will meet
Canadian firms that are participating in the show, as well as UAE
importers and Government officials.