China, Canada resolve canola dispute and expand beef trade

Sept 22 (Reuters) – Canada and China have agreed on a solution to a trade dispute over canola sales, lasting to 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

The two countries also have a new  agreement expanding access of Canadian beef to the Asian country.

The canola agreement was described as a solution that is “predictable, science-based and stable,” ensuring access for Canadian shipments to China, Trudeau said in Ottawa at a joint press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. He gave no details.

China has also conditionally lifted an import ban on some shipments of U.S. boneless beef and beef on the bone, and will also ease restrictions on Canadian beef, the Asian nation’s agriculture ministry and its premier said on Thursday.

Early reports about the Canadian deal details were light but Reuters said the lifting of the U.S. ban applies to imports of beef that are under 30 months old, according to a statement posted on the China’s agriculture ministry website. The move remains subject to completion of quarantine requirements, which will be issued later, the ministry said, without providing further details.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told a business dinner in New York on Tuesday that China would soon allow imports of beef on the bone from the United States.

On Thursday in Ottawa, Li said China was also ready to lift restrictions on bone-in Canadian beef.

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association is happy about this step toward normalization of import conditions for Canadian beef.

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Trade closed in May 2003 when Canada discovered its first domestic case of BSE.

In 2010 China said it would re-open to Canadian beef in stages. The first was boneless beef from under 30-month cattle.

In 2013 China approved additional beef export facilities to increase the Canadian industry’s capacity to serve Chinese importers.

In June 2014 China said it would consider importation of bone-in, under 30 month beef products and the announcement today completes that.

This step is expected to add $10 million per year in exports of beef to China. In 2015 Canada shipped $256 million of beef to China.

Canada’s cattle supply is currently constricted but as the herd rebuilds beef exports to China could increase further.

“We can producer more beef with confidence if we know markets will be open to purchase it,” said CCA president Dan Darling in a release.

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Canada and China also said today they will launch exploratory talks on a free trade agreement and explore a possible extradition treaty for Chinese fugitives from Canada, even as they announced agreements on beef and canola exports to China.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters the trade and extradition treaty talks were part of an attempt to improve the relationship between the two countries.

Trudeau is already under fire from opposition leaders for considering a treaty that could send Chinese suspects into a legal system where human rights activists say torture and forced confessions are commonplace.

But Trudeau said Canada’s standard on extradition was clearly understood by China.

The controversy over the extradition treaty comes just days after Kevin Garratt, a Canadian held in China for two years and charged with spying, was deported to Canada. His release came just days after Trudeau visited Beijing and sparked questions about what Canada had given up to secure Garratt’s release.

A trade deal could bring an economic boost to Canada, which is struggling with tepid growth amid slumping prices for oil, one of its major exports. Canada counts China as its second-largest export market after the United States.

Emerging from a morning meeting with Li, Trudeau announced four business deals between Canadian and Chinese companies, including a joint venture between SNC Lavalin and China National Nuclear Corp and Shanghai Electric Group Co Ltd to develop, market and build new nuclear reactors in China.

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In separate deals, Sinoenergy Corp Ltd will invest C$500 million over two years in Long Run Exploration Ltd, an Alberta oil and gas company, while Iovate Health Sciences International Inc and Xiwang Food Stuffs Co Ltd signed a share purchase agreement worth C$962 million, the prime minister’s office said.