Canola group to push for trade with China

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr said recently that they have set up a working group to try to persuade China to resume purchasing canola from Canada.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Monday April 1, 2019 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

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Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr said recently that they have set up a working group to try to persuade China to resume purchasing canola from Canada.

The group includes representatives from the Canola Council of Canada, the Canadian Canola Growers Association, Richardson International, Viterra, and the federal, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan governments.

Bibeau said the group approach “will ensure a co-ordinated and collaborative approach towards resolving this market access issue” and will “explore alternative markets, both for the short and long term.”

Canola exporters said they began facing customs clearance problems several months ago, but matters grew considerably worse last month when China cancelled the canola export registrations for Canadian grain handlers Richardson International and Viterra.

Not long after the block on Richardson was made public, the Canola Council said China’s block appeared to be in place on shipments from all Canadian exporters.

Following up on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement last week that Canada would look at sending a technical delegation to China to pursue the matter, Bibeau said Monday she has written her Chinese counterpart, Han Changfu, and requested to send such a delegation.

The delegation, Bibeau said, would be led by Dr. Siddika Mithani, president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and would include CFIA’s team of plant health experts “and the support of technical experts from the Prairie provinces.”

Bibeau said federal plant health experts “are engaged and exchanging technical information with Customs China, who have agreed to continue discussions in the near future.”

Resolving the China export issue is “essential for our farmers and their families, for our agricultural industry and communities, and for the Canadian economy as a whole,” Carr said.

“If there is a problem with our shipments, show us the science, so our skilled and dedicated industry leaders may rectify it.”

Carr said Canada is pursuing new markets via in the U.S. and Mexico, the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries, and by “initiating discussions” with the ASEAN bloc in Southeast Asia, which also includes Indonesia.

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