China widens ban on Canadian canola imports to second firm, Viterra

BEIJING, March 26 (Reuters) – China expanded its ban on Canadian canola imports on Tuesday to include shipments from Viterra Inc, the latest development in a wider trade dispute between the two countries.

Viterra is the second canola exporter to have its registration cancelled, after Beijing halted shipments from top exporter Richardson International earlier this month.

The ban on Viterra, and related companies, was announced by China’s General Administration of Customs on its website and was effective immediately. It comes just days after an industry group said that Chinese importers had stopped buying the oilseed from Canada.

Canada and China are locked in a dispute over trade and telecoms technology that has ensnared the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Ltd, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, who faces U.S. criminal charges.

China’s customs authority said earlier this month it had found hazardous pests in canola imports from Canada, and revoked the export registration of Richardson International.

Richardson has said its canola meets regulatory requirements.

In its statement on Tuesday, customs said the ports of Dalian and Nanning had once again detected several pests in samples taken from cargoes shipped by Viterra Inc.

In order to prevent the introduction of harmful organisms, it had cancelled the firm’s export registration, it said, adding that it will continue to strengthen inspections on all canola imports.

China accounts for about 40 percent of Canada’s canola seed, oil and meal exports, according to industry body the Canola Council of Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that his government was optimistic it can make progress this year in talks to persuade China to resume imports of Canadian canola seed.

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