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Canola Council urges stronger measures to support rules-based trade

April 17, 2019 – As days have turned into weeks and a Canadian delegation has not yet been accepted by China, the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) is calling on the Government of Canada to consider all available options to resume seed trade. While technical discussions are still required, continued delay shows that more options need to be considered.

“Trade must be based on science and commitments to trade rules must be respected,” says Jim Everson, president of the CCC.

Since market access issues affecting canola seed trade started in early March, Chinese buyers remain unwilling to purchase Canadian canola seed and the licenses of two companies, Richardson and Viterra, to export canola seed to China have been suspended.

“China has every right to take action related to plant health for products entering their country, but they also have an obligation to explain the scientific basis for their actions,” says Everson. “So far, we’ve seen little sign that China wants to engage in a science-based discussion, and therefore we need the Government of Canada to consider all available options.”

While technical discussions have taken place between the Chinese and Canadian governments, progress depends on an in-person meeting that has yet to occur.

“As time ticks by, uncertainty is growing and income that drives our economy is being lost,” says  Everson. “These are extraordinary circumstances that will require significant extra effort to resolve.”

The CCC recommends the Government of Canada undertake the following intensified efforts:

  • Appoint an ambassador to China at the earliest opportunity to assist Canada’s diplomats in their ongoing work at our embassy in Beijing;
  • Support producers through this uncertain time by taking action as recommend by grower organizations; and
  • Review all diplomatic, technical and legal tools to engage Chinese officials in resuming trade.

“China is a valued market for Canadian canola and Canada’s canola sector is committed to a predictable and mutually rewarding trading relationship, based on quality and on science,” says Everson. “We urge Canadian and Chinese officials to engage genuinely to resolve this dispute as quickly as possible.”

Resolving market access concerns with canola seed to China is the main topic considered by the industry-government working group on canola. The CCC will continue to lead collaboration on resuming trade as part of the working group.

China has indicated they have a concern with Canadian canola seed shipments, though it is unclear how they arrived at this conclusion.  The Canadian canola industry makes every effort to meet the requirements of customers and their governments around the world. From seed developers, growers, processors and exporters, all segments of the value chain coordinate to ensure consistent and high quality canola.

China has been a major market for Canadian canola, accounting for approximately 40% of all canola seed, oil and meal exports. Canola seed exports to China were worth $2.7 billion in 2018. Demand has been very strong until recent disruptions.

The Canola Council of Canada is a full value chain organization representing canola growers, processors, life science companies and exporters. Keep it Coming 2025 is the strategic plan to ensure the canola industry’s continued growth, demand, stability and success –  achieving 52 bushels per acre to meet global market demand of 26 million metric tonnes by the year 2025.