WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) said on March 27 that it welcomes the government of Canada's announcement that it has launched negotiations towards an economic partnership agreement with Japan, a crucial market for high-quality wheat and barley from Western Canada.

"Japan is an extremely quality-conscious market, and always among our top-volume export customers," said CWB President and Chief Executive Officer Ian White, who was part of a trade delegation to Japan led by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "I congratulate the government for initiating an agreement to ensure that the Japan market remains open and prosperous."

In the 2010-11 market year, Japan was the CWB's biggest buyer of wheat, durum and barley, purchasing 1.7 millions tonnes of grain worth more than C$500 million to western Canadian farmers.

"Going forward, we have confidence that the close relationship we have forged with buyers in Japan, based on many years of business dealings, will position the CWB very well," said White. "We look forward to continuing to service our valued Japanese customers through our Tokyo office and to the conclusion of these important negotiations."