Canada's trade minister is addressing calls from producers and farm groups that want to see a high-level delegation in China working to resolve the canola dispute.

Earlier this week, China cancelled the canola export permit for a second Canadian company, Viterra, after shuttering its doors to shipments from Richardson International at the beginning of March. Customs officials claim shipments from the two companies contain dangerous pests.

Jim Carr says the entire Canadian embassy, and others who represent Canada, are in China working to determine what exactly the issue is, noting further inspection of the shipments in question have yielded no evidence of impurities as the Chinese are claiming.

He says the plan for now, is to continue this approach.

"We continue to look for all avenues to get that message through and we have had engagement with Chinese authorities, but at this stage we are treating the issue as one that can only be resolved through a scientific inquiry of any problems that might be real," explained Carr. "And if there can be no evidence, because there is no evidence, we think it's in everybody's interest to move along."

In the meantime, there are currently high levels of canola ending stocks in Canada and farmers are gearing up to plant a new crop.

Carr says trade diversification will play an important role in Canada's strategy moving forward, finding new destinations for the country's canola as the dispute with China continues. The minister points to opportunities including signed trade agreements with the European Union (CETA), the USMA, and the recently ratified CPTPP."And there is real opportunity for producers, particularly in western Canada, who produce pork, beef, cereals and canola.

"The Japanese market, the Asian Market is opening up, tariffs are coming down and we think there is every real prospective that...in coming days, months and years that there will be very exciting opportunities for western Canadian producers," said Carr.

The minister is also addressing rumours that some Chinese companies are evaluating the risk of buying other Canadian agriculture commodities like wheat, flax and peas as the canola dispute continues.

Carr says there is no evidence this is happening.

"That's why it's important to keep the conversation limited to the accusation of this canola crop, but we have heard nothing or have no evidence that would make an argument that it's anything other than that."

He admits situations can change and other governments can be unpredictable, but repeats that the Canadian government has seen no evidence of this issue becoming broader than the current dialogue.

Carr adds this isn't the first time there's been an issue like this between Canada and China, and says he is confident the two countries will work through the current problem as they have in the past.

 

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