Technical trade trip to China planned on canola cuts

Canada is working with China to arrange a technical, trade-diplomacy trip to deal with what latter claims is a quality issue with Canadian canola.

Last weekend, Canada offered China a “high-level” team that could deal with technical considerations that might exist related to the quality of Canadian canola exports. The move comes after China suspended the import licences of two Canadian grain exporters and increased inspections of Canadian canola.

Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau sent a letter to her Chinese counterpart, offering Siddika Mithani, president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, along with that scientist’s team of plant health experts, and other technical staff from the Canadian Prairies, to deal with issue.

“In the meantime, our plant health experts are engaged in the exchange of information with China Customs who have agreed to continue discussions in the near future,” said Bibeau.

“Our canola and our inspection systems are world-class,” she said in news conference in Ottawa April 1.

The minister also took the opportunity to announce the creation of a canola-specialty working group that includes the Canola Council of Canada, the Canadian Canola Growers Association, Richardson Grain and Viterra, as well as representatives from the federal government and three prairie provinces. The group hopes to solve this market access issue and explore other trade opportunities for canola.

“We know that Canadian farmers have concerns about seeding, storage and prices. As farmers know the government has programs in place to support them to help manage risks and cashflow, we continue exploring the set of current risk management tools to ensure that they can respond to this issue as it continues to develop,” she said.

Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr was blunt in his addressing the trade problem.

“If there is a problem with our exports, show us the science so we can deal with it,” said Carr in Ottawa April 1.

“Farmers make calculated decisions about the crops they are going to grow the following season starting at harvest time. And often the crop after that, and even the one that follows that,” said the minister from Winnipeg.

“A stable, predictable marketplace is a very important piece of that puzzle. I want to reassure Canadians we are working through every available channel to resolve this issue,” he said.

“China is our second largest trading partner…. We need new markets and we are doing this with new trade agreements with Europe, the new NAFTA, with the Asia and Pacific nations and working in discussions with ASEAN (free trade area including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia). We are also having discussions with Pakistan, Mexico and other countries that currently import our canola, about expanding their imports,” he said.

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