China delays implementation of new Canadian canola standard

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 29 (Reuters) – China has delayed implementing a tougher standard on Canadian canola shipments, just days before it was to take effect, as a result of talks between the two countries, a Chinese government spokesperson said.

China’s new standard for foreign material in canola shipments will take effect Sept. 1 instead of April 1, Counsellor Yang Yundong, the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, said in an email to Reuters late on Monday.

The new standard will allow no more than one percent foreign material, such as straw and other plant seeds, per shipment, compared with the current maximum of 2.5 percent.

Canada disagrees with the position that the new standard is needed. The Chinese Embassy spokesperson said his government hoped Canada would take “effective measures so that the issue could be resolved at an early date.”

The spokesperson said the change would reduce the risk of blackleg disease, caused by a fungus common in Canada, from spreading in China.

“The measures taken by the relevant Chinese authorities for that purpose are very much science-based and reasonable,” the spokesperson said.

The Canola Council of Canada says there is no significant risk of spreading the disease through foreign material in shipments. Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay urged China this month to base its decision on scientific factors.

Officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canola Council of Canada were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Canola is processed mainly for vegetable oil. Canada is the world’s biggest producer, and China is its biggest canola export market.

Some traders in both countries have said they believe China’s main motivation for the new standard is a desire to slow imports due to its large domestic rapeseed oil stocks.

China’s quarantine authority, AQSIQ, told the Canadian government in February that it was planning the new measure, causing a short-term drop in ICE Canada canola futures.

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