Bibeau meets Chinese minister

Canada’s agriculture minister met with her Chinese counterpart in a side meeting at the recent G20 gathering but there appears to be no break in the canola impasse.

Marie-Claude Bibeau told reporters during a May 13 conference call that she expressed to minister Han Changfu her deep concern about the suspension of Canadian canola exports and that the matter needs to be resolved quickly.

“I expressed strongly that our government stands firmly behind our robust inspection system and our good reputation of being reliable suppliers of quality product worldwide,” she said.

Bibeau repeated Canada’s statement from the recent World Trade Organization meeting that it must have a meeting with China to discuss its concerns and find out if the canola shipments it says contained pests really did.

“I also expressed that Canada is becoming increasingly troubled by the lack of evidence provided to us regarding the pests of concern,” she said.

“We really need to have a science-based conversation.”

But she also noted that as minister of agriculture Han will have to discuss this with China’s minister responsible for customs.

She didn’t give China a deadline, saying, “we are still in the mode of trying to find a solution and not escalating the issue.

“I’m confident that the minister of agriculture, he will come back and make this point to his counterpart who is responsible for Customs China.”

Bibeau said she and Trade Minister Jim Carr are both focused on market diversification during their international meetings.

At the G20, agriculture ministers agreed that trade must be transparent and science-based to ensure food security around the world.

They also urged all nations to reduce trade barriers.

Ministers from Canada, the United States, Brazil and Argentina formed a new block that will work on global food security.

In bilateral meetings, Bibeau discussed collaboration on African swine fever with Japan, the U.S. and Mexico. The North American representatives agreed to work together to protect against the disease in the highly integrated hog sector.

She also raised Italy’s trade barriers against Canadian durum and India’s against Canadian pulses.

Asked if Canada would consider compensation for farmers such as the $15-billion aid package promised by U.S. President Donald Trump for his farmers caught in a trade war with China, she said the canola working group would inform the government’s response.

“We are following the situation and our response will also evolve according to the situation,” Bibeau said.

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