Ag Minister Optimistic Canola Dispute Can Be Resolved as Trudeau Heads to China

Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay (file photo, AAFC)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be raising the subject of Canadian canola imports during his trip to China this week, according to the federal agriculture minister.

Exports to Canada’s largest canola seed customer are facing an uncertain future, as China plans to implement tighter import restrictions on September 1st. The 1 percent dockage standard would increase costs for Canadian exporters and is not scientifically justified, according to the Canola Council of Canada (read more here).

“I can assure you (Trudeau) is up-to-speed and yes, I did have a chance to discuss the issue with him,” says Lawrence MacAulay in this conversation, speaking on Monday from his riding in PEI. “Hopefully this will help move the file forward.”

The ag minister says Canadian officials are “doing everything possible” in discussions with Chinese counterparts in Beijing to resolve the dispute and keep Canadian canola moving “in the same way we have for the last number of years.”

While stopping short of calling it an artificial trade barrier, MacAulay acknowledges the costs of meeting the lower dockage standard will impact the people who grow canola.

“In the end, whatever happens, if there’s more expense, it’s out of the farmer’s pocket,” he notes.

MacAulay isn’t saying whether the Canadian government would be willing to compromise, but says he’s optimistic a resolution can be reached.

“I’m optimistic, but I would never say something that would jeopardize anything that’s taking place in China.”

The Trudeau delegation, which includes International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, left for China on Monday.

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Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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