Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be travelling to the United Kingdom on a trade mission — and Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire will be in tow.
Harper, Maguire and several other MPs will also participate in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit later this week.
Canadian delegates will continue work on ratifying agricultural portions of the major free-trade agreement with Europe that was announced last year.
"(Europe) is the biggest trade block in the world," Maguire said.
"And for Manitoba, Europe is the fourth-largest export destination for our products ... and it’s extremely important because one in five jobs relies on exports."
During last year’s byelection, Maguire campaigned heavily on the Conservative government’s ability to draw up the agreement — the largest since the North American Free Trade Agreement and local beef farmers in particular voiced optimism as a result.
The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement is expected to take about two years to ratify, but if it is, it would provide tariff-free access for 64,950 tonnes of fresh and frozen beef for Canadian producers.
According to Manitoba Beef Producers, approximately 500,000 additional head of cattle would be required to meet the demand that springs from the agreement.
That’s a significant increase across the country as it represents the total number of calves produced in Manitoba in a year.
The area’s beef industry faltered as of late, with Tyson Foods’ announcement last year the company will stop buying fed cattle direct from Canadian feedlots and the United States government’s decision not to comply with the World Trade Organization’s decision that found country of origin labelling to be discriminatory.
This week’s trip is a chance to further understand European trading opportunities, Maguire said.
He said the lowering of some tariffs is something he said will particularly affect Manitoba.
Oats, for example, are subject to a 51 per cent tariff coming into Europe — which will be eliminated over time as a result of the agreement.
"There’s certainly more opportunity in livestock — pork and beef," Maguire said.
"Because of the volume of people in Europe ... this positions Canada very well because we will be the only ones in the world with a free-trade agreement with both the United States and Europe.
"Because of the importance to our region and the Prairies ... I’m assuming that’s why I was asked to participate in this particular trip."
The NATO Summit later this week will bring together leaders from the 28 member countries, as well as a number of non-NATO partner countries, at which point Harper will reiterate Canada’s call for a "strong co-ordinated response to Russia’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine and undermine the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."
» Twitter: @grjbruce
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 2, 2014