Major Canadian canola exporter to China says finding new markets not easy

A third Canadian canola exporter has received a non-compliance notice from China

Surrounded by colleagues, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and International Trade Diversification Minister James Carr respond to questions from the media about canola during a news conference in the Foyer of the House of Commons Monday April 1, 2019 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

A third Canadian canola exporter has received a non-compliance notice from China over quality concerns, the federal agriculture minister said Tuesday, the latest development in an escalating feud with the Asian country.

Marie-Claude Bibeau confirmed the Chinese government’s move during her appearance before a parliamentary committee studying a trade dispute that has seen China suspend the canola-seed sale permits of two other Canadian firms.

READ MORE: Chinese importers have stopped buying Canadian canola seed: Industry group

“We’ve been informed that there’s a third company that received a non-compliance notification,” Bibeau said, though she wouldn’t name it. “It doesn’t mean that they’re suspended, either, at this time. So, we will obviously keep working with them and see how it goes.”

In recent weeks, citing concerns about pests, China has sent non-compliance notifications to Richardson International Ltd. and Viterra Inc., two major Canadian exporters of canola seed. Chinese officials also suspended their licences.

China’s moves to choke off Canadian canola-seed imports have been widely viewed as the superpower applying economic pressure on Canada following the December arrest of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of the United States.

Curt Vossen, the CEO of Richardson, told another House of Commons committee Tuesday that canola products alone were just over 15 per cent of all of Canada’s exports to China and, last year, were worth more than $4 billion.

China imported $2.7 billion worth of Canadian canola seed last year, which ensures any prolonged feud would be felt by farmers, the industry and the broader economy. The seeds are the raw material for canola oil, which is widely used for cooking and in some industries.

Vossen, whose Winnipeg-based company has been doing business in China for more than a century, said he cannot emphasize enough the importance of finding a solution to the feud — and quickly.

As the federal government searches for that solution, it’s been trying to find new markets and cabinet ministers have been touting Canada’s recently ratified trade deals with the Asia-Pacific region and the European Union.

“If the current disruption continues over the longer term, we will have no choice but to find other markets for Canadian canola seed, however doing so will be no easy task,” said Vossen. “While we are confident that we can eventually find other markets, it will not be a painless exercise.”

He urged the federal government to be ”more aggressive” in defending the interests of Canada’s agriculture exporters in China and around the world, where they’re facing trade barriers in several jurisdictions.

“To say that canola is important to Canada’s trading relationship with China would be a gross understatement — canola and, indeed, the entire grains and oilseeds complex is the foundation of Canada’s trading relationship with China,” he said, noting the disruption comes at a critical time right before seeding season, when farmers are deciding how much to grow.

The Liberal government has insisted it wants to find a scientific solution to the dispute and Bibeau has said she sent a letter to her Chinese counterpart with a request to send a delegation of experts to China to examine the issue. Officials are examining options to support farmers through the possible expansion of existing programs, Bibeau said.

The federal Liberals have also established a working group that includes officials from Richardson and Viterra and representatives from the governments of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

On March 1, the same day China suspended Richardson’s licence, Canada’s Justice Department gave the go-ahead for the extradition case against Meng.

It marked the formal start of the high-profile process that has thrust Canada into a highly uncomfortable position between China and the United States.

In the days following Meng’s arrest, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on leave, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur, on allegations of engaging in activities that have endangered Chinese national security.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Golden Dollar Store celebrates 20 years

Opening its doors in December 1993, the store will spend 2020 celebrating 20 years of business

Kicking Horse Update, Tuesday February 18

Kicking Horse reports no new snow in the last 24 hours. The… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update, Tuesday February 18

When travelling along Highway 1 this morning, watch for slippery sections between… Continue reading

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Two injured in semi truck incident on Trans Canada Highway Feb. 13

One was pinned between a semi and a plow when another semi hit the wreckage

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

Forest industry supporters and convoy arrive at B.C. legislature in Victoria

Rally delivers petition in favour of ‘working forests’

Ten poisoned eagles rushed to veterinary hospital in Nanaimo

Eagles stricken after eating flesh of euthanized animal at Nanaimo Regional Landfill

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Trudeau says Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades a critical moment for country

First Nations leaders suggest it may be time to peacefully end the blockades

B.C. budtenders become first private cannabis workers to unionize in Canada

Two of seven Clarity Cannabis storefronts vote to join UFCW 1518 union

Kids exposed to household cleaners as newborns more likely to get asthma: B.C. study

Air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners were the worst culprits

Victoria, Abbotsford record biggest jumps in rent prices nationwide: report

Toronto and Vancouver had priciest rentals in Canada

VIDEO: Convoy of forest industry supporters on its way to Victoria

Rally at the B.C. legislature begins with participants setting off from Campbell River

Most Read